Dealing with sectarian strife: Peace talks progress as 48 suspects surrender

Negotiations continue regarding release of 117 suspects in police custody.


Our Correspondent September 05, 2013
Dealing with sectarian strife: Peace talks progress as 48 suspects surrender.

MULTAN: After prolonged negotiations between the Shia and Sunni peace committees, 48 criminals have surrendered to the police courting arrest in the district coordination office in Bhakkar on Wednesday.

They include 24 members of the two communities. A total of 119 members from both sects are alleged to be responsible for 10 sectarian killings in different areas of Bhakkar district.

The arrested persons have been kept at different police stations for further investigations.

The week-long negotiations made the arrests possible. It will subsequently allow release of 117 suspects, 52 of them from one community and 65 from the other. They had previously been detained by the police. All suspects against whom first information reports (FIRs) have not been lodged will be released in the next 48 hours.

Core peace committee in the district has been acting as an arbitrator after the sectarian killings, making efforts for members across the sectarian divide to sign a peace pact. Officials are optimistic that the ‘ceasefire’ can be established in the next 3-4 days, allowing for life to return to normalcy.

The committee is making efforts to include all FIRs that have been lodged by the two communities, to be taken back, allowing for all detained alleged for mass killings to be released. Meanwhile, 31 suspects from both the groups have already been released on bails in the preceding seven days.

The Rangers have been continuously patrolling different areas of the city. The district administration, in collaboration with the police, has been monitoring the situation.

FIRs had been lodged by the police against two clerics who were arrested on the suspicion of promoting sectarian divide by propagating controversial extremist views during their sermons.

District Coordination Officer Bhakkar Zahid Hussain Mumtaz, while speaking to The Express Tribune, said that Punjab government will not allow anyone to disturb the law and order situation in the province, and will make all efforts to maintain interfaith harmony in the district.

District Police Officer Sarfraz Falki had assured delegations of both the communities that innocent people will soon be released from police custody without more interrogation.

It is said that successful results are the result of sincere cooperation between the two communities. District officials have been vigilantly supervising the sensitive situation.

Imposition of section 144 in Darya Khan, Pang Gaarian and Kotla Jam has discouraged public gatherings and authorities have been monitoring strict implementation of law and order.

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