17 churches and around 100s Christian houses were vandalized and set on fire in the Jaranwala district of Faisalabad, the second largest city of Punjab province, on the charge of blasphemy.
According to the preliminary report “FIR” filed by the police, two Christian citizens are accused of uttering insulting words about the Prophet of Islam and desecrating the Holy Quran in Cinema Chowk of Jaranwala.
It has been stated in the FIR that when the police reached the Cinema Chowk of Jaranwala after receiving information about the incident, there were papers of the Quran on which insulting words were written in red pen, while the accused fled from the spot.
An angry mob gathered outside the local church after the incident, several people in the crowd started vandalizing the church and later set it on fire.
Several people in the mob also ransacked the office of the Assistant Commissioner, who is also a Christian and was later transferred from his post by the government. While the people of the Christian community living in the area fled from their homes.
Whereas the Inspector General of Punjab Police Usman Anwar told the media that local peace committees have been formed to control the situation.
The police registered a First Information Report (FIR) bearing No 1258/23 against the accused Christian man under Sections 295B (Desecration of Holy Quran, etc.) and 295C (Using insulting words against the Prophet of Islam) of the Pakistan penal code (PPC). The court can impose the death penalty on conviction of blasphemy.
Lahore Police arrested the accused Christian brothers Raja Amir and Rocky Saleem on Wednesday night. On the 18th, the Judicial Magistrate gave a 7-day remand to the local police for further investigation. Following the violence, at least 150 Muslims were arrested overnight, police said, but more arrests were expected. Police have registered an FIR against unidentified Persons as well the local Muslim leaders identified as Amir Jamaat Ahlesunnat, Mufti Muhammad Younas, and Syed Asifullah Shah Bukhari, the district leader of the Islamist political party Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP). The TLP denied inciting the violence and said it had worked with police to calm things down. However, Younas and Bukhari were among those leading the violent protests.
Farrukh Saif suggested that anger became clear in Jaranwala, where he explained that all the area’s 19 churches suffered damage. Footage obtained by our organization showed men taking off a cross from the roof of a church and throwing it onto the ground. He further added Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws target religious minorities (including the Muslim minority) but particularly the Christian minority. About a quarter of all blasphemy charges target Christians, the only minority of the population make up 1.8 percent of the total population of Pakistan.
Currently, we are working on determining the extent of the damage to the houses and other household items that have been damaged, and we are determined to support all 87 of the families who have lost their homes in the attack.