HomeLatest NewsPakistan arrests 140 suspects for alleged involvement in attacks on Christians in Punjab province

Pakistan arrests 140 suspects for alleged involvement in attacks on Christians in Punjab province

Nine Christians injured after Hindu mob burst into church hall in Chhattisgarh

LAHORE: Pakistan’s Punjab police on May 29 claimed to have arrested a total of 140 suspects involved in attacking members of the Christian minority, their properties and police personnel on the issue of alleged desecration of the Quran.

A charged mob led by radical Islamist Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) activists last week attacked the Christian community in Mujahid Colony in the Sargodha district of Punjab, some 200 km from Lahore, that left two Christians and 10 policemen injured.

The mob burned and ransacked the homes and properties of the Christians.

According to Punjab police spokesperson Mubashir Hussain, some 140 suspects involved in the Sargodha incident have been taken into custody so far. “They are arrested in light of video and CCTV footage. It has been ensured that no innocent is rounded up,” he said and added many of them have been sent to jail on judicial remand.

Police booked over 450 people under terrorism and other charges.

According to the FIR, a mob surrounded the residence and shoe factory of Nazir Masih alias Lazar Masih (an elderly Christian), accusing him of desecration of the Quran.

The enraged mob set fire to the shoe factory, some shops and a couple of houses. “The mob also brutally torched Masih but the timely arrival of a heavy contingent of police saved the lives of Masih and 10 other members of the Christian community,” the FIR said. It says some pages of the holy Quran were reported to have been found outside the shoe factory of Masih. This instigated the locals. Although the family of Masih denied desecration of the Quran the mob wanted to lynch him.

“The enraged mob pelted stones at police personnel when they resorted to baton charge to disperse it. At least 10 policemen, including officers, have been injured,” as per the FIR.

According to the residents’ accounts recorded by a team led by Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation (CICF), the blasphemy charges brought up against Lazar Masih were a “consequence of a festering resentment between Lazar’s family and the local Muslim community over a drainage issue.”

Masih’s nephew, Irfan Gill also confirmed that the former’s grandsons were often drawn into a fight by the local Muslims over the same issue.

“On May 22, three days prior to the incident of May 25, the provocation was dispensed by Ayub, a neighbour working as a dairyman. Two of Masih’s grandsons somehow got involved in a fight with Ayub and ended up going to the local police station to file a complaint against the dairyman,” CICF said.

Three days later, the Mujahid Colony’s loudspeakers were resounding with charges of blasphemy against Masih.

Last year, at least 24 churches and over 80 houses belonging to Christians in Jaranwala tehsil of Faisalabad district, some 130 km from the provincial capital, were burnt down by a mob enraged over reports that two Christians had desecrated the Quran.

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