Hundreds booked for setting Charsadda police station on fire

Published November 29, 2021
Residents gather amid the damage at a burnt-out police station in Charsadda on Monday. — Reuters
Residents gather amid the damage at a burnt-out police station in Charsadda on Monday. — Reuters

Officials on Monday registered a case against hundreds of suspects for attacking and setting a police station on fire in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Charsadda district a day earlier.

According to the FIR, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the case has been registered against 30 named suspects and between 300 to 400 unnamed suspects. Police also nominated two candidates for tehsil nazim in the upcoming local body elections among the suspects.

The case has been registered under sections 324 (attempted murder), 353 (assault or act to deter a public servant from discharge his duty), 345 (wrongful confinement), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc.), 427 (damage to property), 120 (concealing design to commit offence punishable with imprisonment), 148 and 149 of the Pakistan Penal Code along with Section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act.

The FIR, which was registered at the Tangi police station, stated that an angry mob gathered in front of the Mandani police station and wanted officials to hand over a man arrested for allegedly desecrating the Holy Quran.

It stated that the mob became violent and attacked police, before opening fire on officials present at the police post. It added that the mob entered the police post and also seized weapons and other valuables.

According to the FIR, the mob set 22 vehicles on fire including three police vans and also took 12 submachine guns and ammunition. Police also confirmed that the Mandani police station and four posts were destroyed and set on fire during the violent protest.

Meanwhile, a police official who wished to remain anonymous said that almost 30 people had been arrested so far.

Schools and other educational institutions in the area remained closed. Citizens also gathered in front of the police station that was set on fire and staged a protest.

The situation in the area remained tense on Monday. Local leaders and elders also held talked with the protesters and appealed to them to remain peaceful and avoid rioting and clashing with police personnel.

Law and order situation reviewed

Meanwhile, a high-level meeting to review the law and order situation in the province, particularly the incident in Charsadda, was chaired by KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan earlier today.

According to a handout issued by the CM Office, the participants of the meeting were briefed by senior officials about the steps taken by the police to control the situation.

The participants were told that some elements and "criminals", who had provoked people to damage public property, had been identified and the person who had allegedly desecrated the Holy Quran had been arrested.

It was decided that strict action would be taken against those involved in vandalism, as the participants of the meeting condemned the incident.

Speaking on the occasion, the chief minister also condemned the desecration of the Holy Quran, saying that the responsible person would be given stern punishment.

He also assured of strict action against those "who challenged the government's writ". "They will be dealt with an iron hand," he said, directing police officials to ensure law and order.

The chief minister further directed relevant officials to devise a strategy for preventing such incidents in the future.

The incident

On Sunday, a mob had attacked and set on fire a police station in Charsadda, demanding that authorities hand over a man arrested for allegedly desecrating the Holy Quran.

KP Law Minister Fazal Shakoor Khan, who hails from Charsadda, told Dawn.com that police had arrested a man for allegedly desecrating the Quran on Sunday and shifted him to the Mandani police station in the district's Tangi tehsil.

A mob later gathered outside the police station and demanded that officials hand over the man to them. When police denied their demand, the mob, which had grown to a sizeable number by late evening, grew agitated and attacked the police station and set it on fire.

They also vandalised the vehicles parked in the police station, according to the minister. He told Dawn.com that police managed to shift the suspect to a safe location.

"The government will not allow anyone to take the law into their own hands," he said. "The suspect who has been arrested will be proceeded against in accordance with the law."

Given the law and order situation, police did not release more details about the man in custody and the complaint against him. Police also did not confirm any casualties in the violence.

Mandani circle DSP Ishaq told Dawn that the person who had allegedly torched the Holy Quran was apparently mentally deranged, adding that he was immediately taken into custody and shifted to an unknown location. “Apparently, the accused is mentally unstable and he cannot speak,” the police officer said.

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