25 held for attacking family over ‘blasphemy’ in Sargodha

A heavy contingent of police surrounded the area and shifted the accused and his family to an undisclosed location after rescuing them

By News Desk & our correspondents
May 26, 2024
Violent mob gathers outside residence of man accused of committing blasphemy in Punjab's Sargodha district on May 25, 2024. — Screengrab via YouTube/Geo News

LAHORE: At least 25 people were arrested in Sargodha district on Saturday after an angry mob tortured a person belonging to the Christian community over an alleged desecration incident, police said.


According to a report, the situation turned violent when enraged people attacked the man’s house in the Mujahid Colony area, damaging his belongings and torching a shoe factory established within it. They also burnt tyres and damaged electricity installations in the area.

Upon receiving the information, a heavy contingent of police surrounded the area and shifted the accused and his family to an undisclosed location after rescuing them.

District Police Officer (DPO) Asad Aijaz and Regional Police Officer (RPO) Sharik Kamal Siddiqui were also present to control the situation.

Police also resorted to tear-gas shelling to disperse the mob and arrested at least 25 people allegedly involved in the riots.

According to police officials, the situation had been brought under control and no one would be allowed to take the law into their hands.

RPO Siddiqui said after completing the investigation into the alleged blasphemy incident, legal action would be initiated against those found guilty of committing blasphemy.

In a statement, Sargodha Divisional Commissioner Muhammad Ajmal Bhatti pledged that those involved in the incident would be brought to justice after holding a transparent inquiry into the incident. However, he also confirmed that no loss of life occurred in the incident and urged citizens not to pay heed to “rumours” circulating on social media regarding the incident.

“Only one person sustained injuries in the incident,” the commissioner said, adding that he was in stable condition and would be discharged from the hospital soon.

The Punjab home secretary said violence against anyone under the guise of religion would not be tolerated and added that action would be taken against the accused after completion of an inquiry.

Earlier, the RPO had confirmed that the mob also attacked the police party with stones, but they were later dispersed.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz directed Home Secretary Noorul Amin Mengal to visit the locality in Sargodha district to ascertain the facts about the blasphemy case. Official sources said the secretary would visit Mujahid Colony to personally oversee the investigation and review the causes behind the accident. He would assess the law & order situation in accordance with the CM orders.

Also, Secretary Mengal has directed all senior officers to conduct thorough investigation from every angle immediately to bring to light the real facts. The secretary said every Muslim was ready to sacrifice his life for preserving the sanctity of Islam and Holy Quran. “Pakistan belongs to all of us, and violence against anyone under the guise of religion will not be tolerated,” he warned. He promised that following a detailed investigation, appropriate actions would be taken in accordance with the law.

Also, the National Commission for Human Rights has taken notice of violent attacks on the persons and property of Christians in Mujahid Colony, Gilwala tehsil in Sargodha district, and called a report from the district police officer (DPO) Sargodha. It also urged the provincial government to ensure protection of Christian community in Sargodha and elsewhere in the province.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the commission strongly condemned the violent attacks over alleged desecration of Holy Quran. The statement said such acts totally disregard the sanctity of life and property, terrorise people from minorities, vitiates all norms of justice and encourages complete lawlessness.

It stressed swift and expeditious action by the law-enforcement authorities to arrest and bring the culprits to the book in the minimum possible time. The statement said that after receiving information about the incident, the NCHR Member (Punjab) was in constant contact with the district and provincial authorities for immediate preventive action to ensure any further loss of life and property. It said the Member (Minorities) of NCHR was also in contact with the local pastors.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) expressed concerns over the situation in Sargodha and urged the Punjab Police and district administration to restore calm in the area and bring perpetrators to justice immediately, while ensuring that the Christian community comes to no further harm.