Christian man rescued from lynch mob in Sargodha, say police

Published May 26, 2024
Punjab IG Dr Usman Anwar speaks to residents and clerics after a Christian man was rescued from a mob in Sargodha on May 25. — DawnNewsTV
Punjab IG Dr Usman Anwar speaks to residents and clerics after a Christian man was rescued from a mob in Sargodha on May 25. — DawnNewsTV

LAHORE: Police rescued a Christian man from enraged mobsters, who wanted to lynch him, and attacked homes of some other members of the minority community in Sargodha on allegations of desecration of Holy Quran on Saturday, the provincial police chief said.

The incident took place when some residents of the Mujahid Colony fou­nd burned pages near an electric pole and the houses of the Christian family.

The residents include Irfan Gondal, his father Ayyub Gondal, TLP activists Ikram, Sjawal Butt and Manzar who called other residents and alleged that a 74-year-old man from the minority community and his sons had recovered the pages of the holy book from a box and set them on fire.

People gathered and knocked on the door of the suspected man. When he came out, the mobsters started thrashing him with kicks and fists and hurled stones at him.

The mob swelled and set a shoe shop of the Christian family on fire and tried to enter their house after damaging the walls and doors.

Two houses damaged, shop torched in Sargodha amid outrage over alleged desecration of Holy Quran

In the meantime, a heavy police contingent led by Sargodha DPO Assad Ejaz Malhi reached the scene. The police used a water cannon and baton-charged the mobsters to disperse them. They rescued the suspected man from them and shifted him to a military hospital.

The police also rescued other family members from the house and moved them to undisclosed locations.

Rizwan Younus Gill, a nephew of the suspected man, told Dawn his uncle was in stable condition.

He claimed that a couple of days ago a TLP activist had exchanged harsh words with his cousions, but the matter was resolved through negotiations.

He denied allegations of desecration.

IGP holds meeting

IGP Punjab Dr Usman Anwar arrived at the scene and held a meeting with members of the Christian community and Muslim ulema.

He said hundreds of mobsters had attacked two Christian families over desecration allegation and caught one of the family members and were trying to lynch him when the police reached the scene and rescued them.

He said a shoe shop of the Christian family was set ablaze and walls of their houses were damaged.

The IGP said police were deployed in the locality to maintain law and order and no one would be allowed to take law into their own hands.

He said police would investigate the alleged desecration incident and repair the damaged homes and the shop.

Home Secretary Noorul Amin Mengal has ordered senior officers to investigate every aspect of the incident. “Pakistan belongs to all of us; no injustice will be tolerated under the guise of religion. Action will be taken according to the law after a complete investigation,” Mr Mengal said.

No FIR of the incident was registered till late into night.

Mobsters held

DPO Malhi told Dawn that 25 of the mobsters were taken into custody from the spot and they were identifying the other attackers.

He said a head constable, Aneesur Rehman, played the role of a hero and stood in front of the mobsters to rescue the Christian families.

He said additional police units were stationed throughout the city to ensure the safety of the Christian community.

He rejected the videos circulating on social media in which the mobsters set a man on fire and said the man accused of committing the desecration was alive and receiving treatment at a hospital.

A statement of the Sargodha police, a copy of which is available with Dawn, said, “There was no loss of life, more than 10 police officers and personnel were also injured due to stone pelting by the angry people. The Sargodha police risked their lives to rescue the families and pulled them out from the crowd. Thanks to the timely action of the police, Sargodha was spared a great tragedy.” The situation in the city is “completely peaceful and under control”, it added.

Divisional Commissioner Muhammad Ajmal Bhatti held out the assurance that a transparent investigation would be conducted into the incident, and those found responsible would be brought to justice in accordance with law.

He appealed to the public to ignore rumours and maintain peace, noting that the news circulating on social media might be contrary to the facts and aimed at creating sensationalism. He urged the public not to believe any unverified information.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan ex­­pressed serious concern over the situation.

The HRCP urged the Punjab Police and district administration to “immediately restore calm and bring the perpetrators to justice while ensuring the Christian community’s safety”.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2024

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