Thursday, August 17, 2023
FAISALABAD: Police on Thursday arrested two men who have been accused of inciting violence against the minority places of worship by making announcements at a mosque in Faisalabad's Jaranwala.
The development comes after the Punjab interim government ordered a high-level inquiry after a mob set fire to a number of churches and vandalised Christians' homes during a rampage on Wednesday, with authorities saying over 100 people had been arrested.
Punjab Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi said that the two main suspects are in the custody of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD).
He also appreciated Chief Secretary Zahid Akhtar Zaman and Inspector General Police Dr Usman Anwar for their tireless efforts. He also said that Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar guided them in the process of arrests.
Hundreds of men attacked a predominantly Christian area on the outskirts of the industrial city earlier in the day after allegations spread that the Holy Quran had been desecrated.
Two cases have also been registered against the arsonists in Jaranwala in which 37 suspects have been named while more than 600 unknown people have been included in the investigation.
According to the police, the people vandalised and set fire to the houses and the churches. They added that the cases have been registered under the charges of terrorism and blasphemy including 13 other provisions.
The police added that the accused, identified as Yasin, has been arrested after a video of him circulated. In the clip, the man could be calling the people from a loudspeaker inside a mosque, asking them to gather around.
The police also added that they are trying to catch more suspects, involved in the incident, with the help of the videos.
Following the incident, Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar called for stern action against those responsible for Wednesday's violence. "I am gutted by the visuals coming out," he said.
A preliminary report of the Jaranwala incident has been prepared according to which 16 churches were set on fire.
The Special Branch report said that people started protesting at around 8:15am and forced the closure of business centres.
People from different cities and villages started reaching Jaranwala after announcements were made in the mosque, said the report. It added that the protesters vandalised and set fire to the houses and churches in the Christian colony at 11am.
The report said that some people also set fire to the house of the assistant commissioner, adding that the protesters set ablaze 15 houses and three churches in Essa Nagri.
Police then baton-charged and started shelling the protestors with tear gas, added the report.
Following the incident, Christian families spent the night in the fields and desolated places to save their lives after their houses were burned and attacked while some of the families moved to other areas to their relatives.
The police said that the families have now started returning after the situation settled in Jaranwala.
Meanwhile, an eight-member committee has been formed to estimate the damages caused due to the incident, said a notification. The committee is being headed by an additional commissioner of revenue and will assess the damage within three days.