Argument between Christians, Muslims turns into clash

Residents of Francisabad in Gujranwala city riot; church in Vehari district comes under attack.


Shahid Saleem/rana Tanveer April 04, 2013
Dozens of angry men took to the streets of Gujranwala after a minor argument turned into a clash. PHOTO: EXPRESS

GUJRANWALA/ LAHORE:


What started off as an argument between a group of Muslims and Christians in Gujranwala turned into a fierce riot on Wednesday in which three people, including a police officer, were injured.


According to details, Christian residents of Naroki, a neighbourhood of Francisabad in Gujranwala city had a minor argument on Tuesday with a group of men – Adeel, Akash, Waqas and Mehran – which was resolved by a third party. However, one of the parties registered a complaint with the local police station against the other which triggered the violence.

The trouble, which continued for hours, saw a charged mob wielding sticks and guns attacking dozens of vehicles, shops and the police station. A group of people also reportedly tried to attack a church in the locality.

Thousands of armed youths emerged on Sheikhupura Road and started chanting slogans and beating up passengers travelling on the road.

Realising the gravity of the situation, the district coordination officer (DCO) of Gujranwala and several police officers arrived on the scene to defuse the tension, but failed. Some members of the mob then opened fire, injuring three people.

The Christians claimed that police officials were involved in the incident.

Later, the DCO and capital city police officer went to the local church and told the protesting Christians that all those police officials who were involved would be suspended.

Amid the chaos, leaders of the Christian and Muslim communities continued their efforts to pacify both sides. The negotiations were being held at the CCPO’s office till the filing of this report.

Church in Vehari district village attacked

In another example of growing intolerance in the country, some people tried to set a church in a village of Vehari district on fire in broad daylight, causing some damage to the building.

They fled immediately after committing the act. Local residents immediately rushed to the site and extinguished the fire.

Local Christians began protesting in large numbers and accused the police of deliberately not arresting those responsible. However, police said an FIR was registered against unidentified people.

Daniel, the son of church pastor Barkat Masih, told The Express Tribune that the locals saw a plume of smoke rising from the church and when they rushed to the site, they saw several materials, including a copy of the Bible burning on a pile in the centre of the church hall. He added that they swiftly doused the flames.

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

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