Mob goes on rampage in Sargodha after blasphemy accusation

SARGODHA: In yet another incident of violence against the Christian community in Punjab, an enraged mob vandalized properties and set furniture ablaze in Sargodha’s Mujahid Colony on Saturday after a Christian man was accused of desecrating the Holy Quran.

The violent mob attempted to set fire to the alleged offender’s house and lynch the suspect.

However, a heavy contingent of police, including Sargodha Regional Police Officer (RPO) Shariq Kamal Siddiqui and District Police Officer (DPO) Asad Ejaz Malhi, arrived at the scene and managed to control the situation. Dozens said to have been arrested.

“Over 2000 policemen have been deployed to control the situation,” DPO Malhi said.

He also warned that those inciting violence would be identified through CCTV footage and face strict legal action, adding that police were conducting a thorough search operation in the area.


In an address to the media, he assured, “The public should remain patient; strict action will be taken against the perpetrators.”

The incident brought back memories of last year’s horrific mob violence in Jaranwala tehsil of Faisalabad, where multiple churches in a Christian neighbourhood were attacked by an enraged mob over an act of alleged desecration of the Holy Quran.

The police blocked all routes of the Isa Nagri – housing over 500 Christian families.

The locals of the area accused the police of standing by as spectators as hundreds of people, armed with sticks and batons, vandalised the churches besides ransacking and even burning their homes.

Media reports stated that a mob of over 100 people set ablaze the Salvation Army Church, one of the oldest in the area. The United Presbyterian Church, Allied Foundation Church and Shehrunwala Church were also ransacked.

However, a statement issued by the interim Punjab government said: “A large mob of five to six thousand people gathered at various places of Jaranwala in different groups. They attempted to attack localities of a minority which was foiled by the police at various places. An attempt was made to damage various buildings which was pre-empted and countered by the police timely action.”

Rana Imran Jamil, a spokesperson for Rescue 1122, told AFP that four churches had been set on fire. A Christian cemetery was also vandalised, as well as the local government office, as crowds demanded action from the authorities.

As panic spread in the area, shops were shut and a strike was called. The situation remained tense despite heavy presence of police at the site.

Videos and messages posted on social media by the people of the area suggested that the mob was reportedly incited by announcement from loudspeakers of mosques about the alleged desecration of religious scriptures by three Christians.

‘Handle blasphemy cases with diligence’

Earlier this year, on February 14, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa directed the police to ensure that “religion is not used for personal purposes” and emphasized handling blasphemy cases “with diligence.”

The top court directed that keeping in view the sensitivity of blasphemy cases, supervision and investigation would not be carried out by an officer below the rank of SP.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Isa, and comprising Justice Musarrat Hilali and Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar granted bail to a blasphemy accused on a surety bond of Rs50,000, and ordered a further inquiry into the blasphemy case.


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