The intervention of ‘elders’ in Sialkot’s Urdu Bazaar may have prevented a riot, but a Christian family accused of blasphemy still fears for its safety.
Gulzar Masih, who runs one of Sialkot’s oldest book depots, was accused of telling his employees to blaspheme. The accusation was made by Khurram, the son of Masih’s former business partner, late Muhammad Ishtiaq. Masih and Ishtiaq ran the book depot together for nearly 40 years before amicably parting ways in 2000. Following the split, Ishtiaq’s family opened a money exchange office on their share of the property, while Gulzar changed the depot’s name from Ittefaq Book Depot to Gulzar Book Depot and continued selling books.
Twelve years later, the market – which testifies to the friendship between Gulzar and Ishtiaq’s families – witnessed the relationship go up in smoke.