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Arbab condemns church attacks

February 21, 2006

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KARACHI, Feb 20: Sindh Chief Minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim and Home Minister Rauf Siddiqui have separately expressed shock and concern over the incident of desecration of Holy Quran followed by torching of two churches in Sukkur.

They said that no one would be allowed to disturb the law and order situation in the province.

Dr Arbab said that a Christian man, Irfan Gill, had been detained on desecration charges while initial investigations could not ascertain allegations levelled against Saleem Gill.

He blamed some anti-social elements of taking advantage of the situation who set on fire two churches in Sukkur. The incident, he said, should not have happened as Islam taught respect for all places of worship, even those belonging to non-Muslims.

Dr Arbab ordered an investigation into the incidents and directed the authorities concerned to ensure protection of people’s life and property and places of worship.

He said anyone found to be involved in the incidents would be strictly punished.

The chief minister announced compensation for the damage to the churches.

Home Minister Rauf Siddiqui said in a separate statement that Irfan Gill was reported to have set on fire “two or three pages of the Holy Book while blaming the incident on his father-in-law to usurp the latter’s plot of land”.

A case had been registered against the accused under Section 259-C, under which he could be handed over a punishment of life imprisonment or death penalty, the minister said.

He said that some people agitated after reports of the desecration and torched two churches, which was a condemnable act and the people arrested on the charge of involvement in the crime would be tried under the Terrorism Act.

He called upon the people of Sukkur to remain calm and maintain law and order.

“Strict punishment would be awarded to the person responsible for desecrating the Holy Quran, which would be set an example for the whole province so that no one will dare to commit such a crime in future,” Mr Siddiqui said.— APP