Joseph Colony arson: Derelict cops will not go scot-free, court assured

Govt admits police purposefully avoided clash with violent mob; Supreme Court disposes of the case.

Mudassir Raja April 04, 2013
The police avoided the mob because if any of them got killed the issue might have been blown out of proportion . PHOTO: ABID NAWAZ/ EXPRESS


Punjab government’s attorney conceded on Wednesday that the Lahore police purposefully avoided a clash with a violent mob that attacked some 200 houses in a Christian neighbourhood of Lahore on March 9, following reports that a Christian sanitary worker had blasphemed against the Holy Prophet (pbuh).

“The police avoided the mob because if any of them got killed the issue might have been blown out of proportion and engulfed the whole country,” Punjab Additional Advocate General Hanif Khatana told the Supreme Court, while defending the police for its failure to protect residents of Joseph Colony in Badami Bagh, Lahore.

“Is the Punjab government not ready to take risks to protect Christians?” He added: “An earlier incident at Gojra also speaks volume about the government attitude.”

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry also expressed displeasure at the official’s remarks. “Do you mean whenever there is a charged mob, the police should shy away from confronting them? Should we leave the Supreme Court building if a mob attacks and takes shelter in the Judges Colony?”

Justice Chaudhry also pointed out that all citizens were equal according to the Constitution. The police are trained to control mobs, he added.

Justice Azmat said the police’s inaction was ‘disturbing and upsetting’.

Newly appointed Punjab police chief Aftab Sultan assured the court that departmental action has been initiated against the area’s SP, DSP and two SHOs for taking shelter in a nearby warehouse, instead of confronting the mob that torched the houses in Joseph Colony.

He said the police had arrested 50 culprits involved in the attack and added that criminal negligence on part of field officers would also be determined in the case.

Charge-sheets have also been submitted before the relevant court against two persons allegedly involved in blasphemy, the IG said.

In view of the assurances given by the police chief, the court disposed of the matter and directed relevant courts to proceed with the case in accordance with the law.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 4th, 2013.


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