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A Pakistani Christian demonstrator throws a tear gas shell back towards riot police during a protest against the attack on the homes of members of the Christian community by Muslim demonstrators in Lahore on March 10, 2013. — Photo by AFP

Badami Bagh arson attack: Clashes between protesters, police paralyse Lahore

LAHORE: As the Christian community took to streets across Punjab and cities and towns of other provinces on Sunday to register their protest against Saturday’s Badami Bagh arson attacks, Lahore presented the look of a battlefield with angry protesters blocking roads, causing suspension of metro bus operations and clashing with police.

The police baton-charged the protesters and arrested a number of them for damaging public property.

The protests erupted in various parts of the provincial capital in the morning after a large number of Christians appeared on different roads. On the Ferozepur Road residents of Yuhanabad who were carrying placards and banners blocked the traffic.

They were chanting slogans against the Punjab government.

The situation took an ugly turn when police tried to disperse them when they stormed the central track of the metro service, halting its operation. Police also pelted the protesters with stones.

The charged protesters damaged a metro bus and ransacked parts of the Yuhanabad bus station. Police fired tear gas and fired into the air to disperse them but without success.

The situation forced the Punjab Metro Bus Authority to suspend its entire operations. The daylong protests, mainly at Yuhanabad, left the traffic on both sides of Ferozepur Road out of gear.

“We have no way but to protest in the present scenario because we feel insecure after the burning of our homes in Joseph Colony,” Johnson, one of the protesters, said.

Replying to a question, he blamed the police for using traditional tactics to deal with protests which led to the damage to the bus and the station. “Had the police avoided using tear gas and firing into the air the protesters would have remained peaceful.”

Another protester, Kamal Maseeh, also accused police of provoking the protesters.

A spokesman of the Lahore DIG (Operations) said the officials were forced to take action after the mob damaged the public property.

“What should police do when protesters start taking the law into their own hands?”

The protesters also removed posters and banners of various PML-N leaders displayed at the bus station and along the road.

A government team led by local MPA Zaeem Qadri rushed to the place to hold talks with Christian leaders but returned after reportedly having been criticised severely by the protesters.

Police managed to disperse the protesters in the evening.

Another procession taken out by hundreds of Christians from Shah Jamal locality blocked another stretch of Ferozepur Road.

Traffic police diverted the traffic towards Canal Road.

Police succeeded in diverting the protesters towards Wahdat Road where they dispersed.

Near the press club, local Christian leaders led a demonstration under aegis of the Human Liberation Commission of Pakistan.

The protesters chanted slogans against the government for its failure to protect Christians and other minorities.

Pastor Javaid Anwar, Peter Gull, Aslam Pervaiz Sahotra and other leaders said the atrocities committed against Christians in Lahore had proved the Punjab government’s inability to protect the minorities.

They said the minorities had been left at the mercy of religious extremists who tortured them from time to time. They said the Christians wouldn’t end their protests in Lahore and other parts of the country till concrete assurances were given by the rulers about protecting the lives and property of the minorities.

They also rejected the chief minister’s announcement about compensation to be given to affected families and a judicial investigation into the incident.

Similar rallies were held in other cities and towns of Punjab by Christians and members of the civil society. The protesters blocked busy thoroughfares but remained peaceful.

Comments (22) Closed

sraz45 Mar 11, 2013 07:20am
It is time the religious extremists in Pakistan are chased out society. People will any sense should not support them to carry out killing of innocent Shias, Christians, and forced conversion of Hindu girls in Sindh. Where is common decency gone? These people should be dealt with very severely.Time this incompetent government be gone.Whoever will clean up the mess will have his hands full.
ali abbas Mar 11, 2013 05:29pm
our CJ doesn't miss any opportunity to humiliate PPP govt or give them a breathing room to solve any problem. He is very quick to take suo moto notice especially when anything happens in Karachi (situation is much more complex in Karachi), I am just curious why he doesn't have to courage to take suo moto notice against punjab govt, why not call blasphemy law in question and ask courts to repeal them or even urge parliament to act. Does any one doubt that he only likes to take action on easy and politically expedient matter to keep himself in news and he is not sincere in providing swift justice to ordinary Pakistani.
robert Mar 11, 2013 06:50am
Instead of having this daily bloodbath, it is better Pakistan is divided equally among different religions or sects so that each group has its own homeland and can live peacefully. This should have been done long ago, but its better late than never.
Eddie Mar 11, 2013 08:07am
Since the incident of Badami Bagh our beloved "kahdim-e-punjab" chief minster is nowhere to be seen and apparently least bothered about the atrocities faced by minorities under his eyes.
Anon Mar 11, 2013 05:26am
Again, the way events have transpired smack of the failure of the state not only to guarantee basic rights of security to its minorities, but also in the larger sense of making possible the conditions for a society to develop where disenfranchised elements from the majority turn to arms for grievances that have nothing to do with religion - poverty, illiteracy, and unemployment foster religious extremism. When the state refuses to assure everyone their basic rights, justice, and equality of opportunity, and deliberately and systematically denies the masses education, how can it expect its people not to fall into barbarism? You reap what you sow.
ARA Mar 11, 2013 05:19am
Its really bad when people take law in their own hands. These people who damaged the public property are not less than those brutes who destroyed their houses. Same people with same pillage, the only thing is both belong to different religion.
Ejaz Mar 11, 2013 06:18am
I thought General Zia is long dead with his extreamism, but he is still alive in many people's (so called momins) hearts.
Khurram Mar 11, 2013 04:50am
Protest is the last resort.
Karachiite Mar 11, 2013 05:58am
KhanChangezKhan Mar 11, 2013 05:52am
Damaging public property is a great violence of law. Police must take strict actions against the violators. Muslims angry on the issue of their religion is a nature and retaliation anything can happen. This is not US, UK, CANADA or Holland where Christians and other religions are allowed to do anything in the name of Free Speeches law in those countries. We are Pakistani Muslims and we never allow anyone to say anything against Islam and our Prophets. If anyone not agrees on it then they should leave our country and go to any other non-Muslim countries. Police and other security agencies must stop Christians of such violations otherwise the Muslims might react on it and this is to be very dangerous.
nukhan Mar 11, 2013 05:49am
Really sad to see what's going. What do we accomplish by doing all this. Can't we coexist with people from other faiths.
Harinder Mar 11, 2013 05:14am
What ever is there in mind and scriptures manifests itself how so ever hard one may try to cover it up ..
Abu-Salmaan Mar 11, 2013 05:15am
Justice should be done to everyone irrespective of one's religion or political affiliation.
Akbar Mar 11, 2013 05:10am
There is no plan laid down by the Government to stop this non-sense from happening again to the minorities. Why couldn't police be assigned the very night when this case was registered. We could have saved those 10 homes and the churches from burning.
Malikpur - Janderbari - Abbottabad Mar 11, 2013 04:25am
I am surprised to see the statement of political parites, ulemas, governments and others to support christian community, even if still they creates law and order situatation, they must be dealt with iron hands. This is no way accepted that a christian commits blasphamy and their community starts burning public properties. Government has already taken strict action against culprits of BB but due to political milage if other parites instigate christian against PMLN then government must do its duties....
Agha Ata (USA) Mar 11, 2013 04:15am
Police and the government both are incompetent. We can no longer say, "...You are free to go to churches and temples..... " Christians should think of moving somewhere else.
Dada Mar 11, 2013 03:34am
More power to the protesters! Every progressive Pakistani should be on their side. Enough is enough.
S. A. M. Mar 11, 2013 03:15am
Shias should learn lesson how protests are conducted. Enough of being tolerant.
sajid absar Mar 11, 2013 02:44am
Shame on provincial and Federal governments for not protecting the minorities of the pakistan.
Javed Anwar Mar 11, 2013 02:52pm
Shameless rulers their sons & daughters go an extra mile for achieving their personal motives at the cost of poor masses. May ALLAH ALMIGHTY Crush them & their evil designs. Ameen suma Ameen.
ali abbas Mar 11, 2013 05:32pm
What can I say to dumb arguments to support further division. We should assimilate more, Shias should be marrying Sunnis, hindus, christian and marrying should marry each other and have kids and businesses together. There should be an open ban on different Muslim sects anyone, I dont say any mention of any sects on Quran or teaching of Prophet.
Bbbb Mar 12, 2013 09:56pm
You want to know why? Because, Karachi has been burning for a long time, and nothing has happened. This is the first incident of its this kind in Lahore, and action is being taken by the authorities.