Police thwart another Jaranwala-like tragedy

Cops rescue Christian man in Sargodha before mob lynches him over allegation of blasphemy

Mohammad Shahzad May 25, 2024
Citizens set fire outside the house of the alleged offender in the blasphemy case, attempted to set the house on fire as well (Photo: Video screenshot)


Police on Saturday rescued a Christian man and his family in Sargodha’s Mujahid Colony as well as arrested over a dozen individuals, who were part of an enraged mob that subjected him to severe torture accusing him of committing blasphemy.

Police sources said residents of the neighbourhood became infuriated and started protesting by burning tyres after rumours of the alleged desecration surfaced.

The furious crowd vandalised the house of the Christian man and set his shoe factory on fire. They also subjected him to severe torture, leaving him “half dead”.

On receiving information about the incident, a heavy contingent of police, including Regional Police Officer (RPO) Shariq Kamal Siddiqui and District Police Officer (DPO) Dr Asad Ejaz Malhi, reached the scene and cordoned off the area.

The police took the Christian man into their custody after rescuing him from the violent crowd and shifted him to a hospital in a serious condition.

The enraged mob shattered the windows of the ambulance taking him to the hospital by pelting it with stones. The police arrested over a dozen individuals from the violent crowd.

They also fired teargas shells to disperse the enraged mob.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, DPO Dr Malhi said that they were able to control the situation with the help of all institutions, civil society and scholars from different schools of thought.

“The police have managed to rescue the victims of the incident,” he added.

The DPO maintained that those who resorted to violence would be taken into custody with the help of CCTV footage.

He urged the people not to pay heed to “rumours” circulating on social media, saying neither had anyone died, nor someone suffered any gunshot wound during the vicious episode.

Social media videos showed a bloodied old man surrounded by enraged participants of the crowd and others damaging furniture. 

“When the police reached the scene, the mob had gathered outside the houses [of the Christian community members]. They cordoned off the area and safely evacuated all the residents,” he explained.

The official continued that additional police personnel were deployed across the city to ensure the security of the Christian community.

Read Punjab records 193 cases of violence against minorities in a year

He said that a house and a shop had been partially damaged. “Their reconstruction has been already started.”

A nephew of the injured Christian man said his uncle was in a serious condition at the hospital.

He added that the family was not being permitted to meet him.

A statement issued by the Punjab police read that the RPO and his team managed to save 10 lives and control the situation.

“There was no loss of life, and more than 10 police officers and personnel were injured due to stone pelting by the angry people. The Sargodha police risked their lives to rescue the families and pulled them out from the crowd. Thanks to the timely action of the police. Sargodha was spared a great tragedy,” it added.

The statement praised the members of the district peace committee for playing an “effective role in restoring the atmosphere of understanding and peace”.

It continued that the district peace committee had condemned the incident and conveyed the message of “harmonious coexistence”.

“More than 2,000 officers and men of Sargodha police are on security duty. No one will be allowed to misbehave. Citizens are requested to support the police to deal with miscreants,” it quoted DPO Dr Malhi as saying.

Another police statement read that Punjab police chief Dr Usman Anwar had also visited the crime scene where he was briefed about the situation as well as the steps taken for the law and order situation.

He also met with the district peace committee as well as members of the Christian community and commended police personnel for risking their lives to save citizens.

After the incident, Punjab Home Affairs Secretary Noor-ul-Amin Mengal left for Sargodha to inspect the site on the instructions of Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz, a news statement read.

The home affairs secretary will review the causes as well as the investigation of the incident and has ordered all senior officers to investigate its every aspect, it added.

“Pakistan belongs to all of us; no injustice will be tolerated under the guise of religion. Action will be taken according to the law after a complete investigation,” It quoted Mengal as saying.

Last year, several churches in a Christian neighbourhood of Jaranwala tehsil of Faisalabad were attacked by an enraged mob over an act of alleged blasphemy.

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.


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