An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Lahore on Wednesday acquitted and ordered the release of 42 people who were accused in cases pertaining to the lynching of two men in Lahore's Youhanabad colony.
The incident occurred in 2015 when twin suicide bombings outside two churches in Lahore sparked protests in Youhanabad colony. The protests turned violent and two Muslim men identified as Babar Noman, a tailor, and Hafiz Naeem, a glass cutter, were burned to death by an angry mob.
In 2016, the ATC had indicted 42 people — who were all in jail — in different cases pertaining to the incident. Two of the accused died in prison allegedly due to a lack of access to medical treatment.
The suspects had filed an application under Section 345 (compounding offences) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, in which they had contended that they should be released because they had reached an agreement with the victims' families.
The ATC announced the verdict today, acquitting all suspects, including those who passed away, after recording the statements of the victims' families, who told the court that they had arrived at an agreement with the suspects and would have no objections over their acquittal.
Church bombings and Youhanabad protests
At least 15 people were killed and more than 70 injured when two Taliban suicide bombers attacked churches in Lahore in March, 2015. The bombings occurred during prayers at two churches located around half a kilometre apart in the city's Youhanabad neighbourhood that is home to more than 100,000 Christians.
The deadly attacks had sparked anger and thousands of protesters clashed with police and attacked their cars with stones and sticks, as women wept and beat their heads and chests.
Noman and Naeem, who happened to be in the locality on that fateful day, were set ablaze by an angry mob who accused the victims of being terrorists.