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LAHORE, March 9: The Christian community has lambasted the Punjab government for its failure to protect their properties at Joseph Colony of Badami Bagh area where the Muslim residents reportedly set its 100 households ablaze on Saturday over blasphemy charges.

“This is the third major incident during the regime of the PML-N government. Christians were targeted in Shantinagar in 1997, Gojra (2009) and Badami Bagh (2013) during the PML-N government,” Human Liberation Commission of Pakistan (HLCP) chief Aslam Pervaiz Sahotra told Dawn.

He said since the minorities always felt insecure, the PML-N would have to take measures to control such incidents in future.

He said as soon as the community came to know about the alleged involvement of Sawan alias Gogi in some blasphemous act, it immediately caught him and handed him over to the police for investigation. Despite arrest of the accused, arson indicated that the police intentionally gave a free hand to those who attacked houses in groups.

He criticised Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and other PML-N top leaders for not taking preemptive measures to avert the Badami Bagh tragedy.

Meanwhile, local Christians under the banner of HLCP and other organisations staged a protest rally outside the Lahore Press Club. The protesters chanted slogans against the government for its failure to maintain law and order at Joseph Colony.

Carrying placards and banners, they termed the incident an attempt of the religious extremists to create unrest among the communities.

CHRE: Centre for Human Rights Education, an organisation working to promote religious tolerance and social harmony in the country, has strongly condemned the mob attack on the local Christian community and demanded an end to persecution of religious minorities.

“It is tragic that a lot of damage was done in the presence of police who were duty-bound to protect the citizens without any discrimination,” a CHRE statement said on Saturday.

It said the recent case in Lahore and others in the past clearly reflected misuse of blasphemy laws. These laws have been causing institutionalised persecution of religious minorities and fanning hatred, discrimination and violence in the name of religion.