The second victim of the mob violence that followed the Youhanabad church bombings was identified on Tuesday as a hosiery dealer. This came a day after the first victim was identified as local glass cutter Muhammad Naeem.
An angry mob had caught the two men on suspicion they were accomplices of the suicide bombers who attacked Christ Church and St. John’s Catholic Church on March 15. The mob lynched the two men to death before setting their bodies on fire on Ferozepur Road.
However, on Monday a man, Muhammad Saleem, came to the Nishtar Colony police station and claimed that one of the lynched men was actually his brother, Muhammad Saleem, a glass cutter from Kasur district. Subsequent DNA profiling confirmed the claim.
A day later, a family visited the Nishtar Colony police station and claimed that the second victim was Babar Nauman, a resident of Sargodha. According to SHO Tanveer Ahmad, the family said Nauman was a hosiery dealer and came to Lahore on a business trip six days ago. The family further said that they recognised Nauman from the lynching pictures circulated on social media. The family said Nauman was innocent and the mob brutally lynched him on mere suspicion.
The police, however, said the body would be handed over to the family only after the DNA profiling confirmed it was Nauman’s. The charred body of Muhammad Naeem was, meanwhile, handed over to his family for burial.
In a related development the Nishtar Colony police registered six FIRs in connection with the Youhanabad church bombings and the ensuing mob violence.
According to the breakdown, two FIRs were lodged on the complaints of the administrations of the two churches; two others were lodged on the complaint of SHO Tanveer Ahmad against Christian community members for ransacking Metro bus terminals at Youhanabad and Kahna and torturing police officials; the fifth FIR was lodged against Christian community members on the complaint of Muhammad Saleem for lynching his brother Muhammad Naeem; while the sixth FIR was lodged against Maryam Safdar, a schoolteacher, who crushed two protesters under her car on Ferozepur Road on Monday.
The Lahore police have collected the video footage of the incidents from the electronic media and sent high-resolution pictures to the National Database and Registration Authority for identifying those involved in vandalism and lynching. A police officer told The Express Tribune that they have detained 20 people after identifying them from television footage. However, the duty officer at the Nishtar Colony police station said no one was officially detained so far.
Meanwhile residents of Youhanabad started fleeing their homes Tuesday night to avoid arrest by the police. Blocks H and G of Youhanabad, where Muslims are in majority, especially looked deserted as the minority Christian residents felt insecure.
“I’m the last one in my street moving out of the locality. All others have locked their houses and left,” one Christian resident of Street 3, Block H, told The Express Tribune. “I’m moving out because rumour has it that the police will conduct raids tonight.”
Nearly 5,000 police personnel along with 10 companies of paramilitary Rangers remained deployed around Youhanabad on Tuesday. Entry and exit points of Youhanabad were manned by security personnel throughout the day who checked everyone going in and out of the neighbourhood.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2015.