Saturday, August 19, 2023

'Regrettable incident': Justice Isa visits Jaranwala, assures Christian community of all-out support

"I am here as a citizen and it is everyone's duty to help you," Chief Justice Designate Qazi Faez Isa tells victims

Senior Puisne Judge of Supreme Court Justice Qazi Faez visits Jaranwala on August 19, 2023. — Twitter/@Shiffa_ZY
Senior Puisne Judge of Supreme Court Justice Qazi Faez visits Jaranwala on August 19, 2023. — Twitter/@Shiffa_ZY

  • Justice Isa visits Jaranwala with his wife, provides financial assistance.
  • Expresses displeasure with DC over unclean streets after incident. 
  • Senior judge tells Christian community they have equal rights. 

FAISALABAD: Chief Justice Designate Qazi Faez Isa on Saturday visited Jaranwala to meet and express solidarity with the Christian community after violent attacks on their houses and churches over alleged blasphemy allegations. 

On August 16, a crowd vandalised several churches and set scores of houses on fire in Jaranwala town of the industrial district of Faisalabad after clerics made announcements in mosques inciting the mob to attack the Christian community under allegations of blasphemy.

Paramilitary troops were called in to handle the violence and bring the situation under control, according to a government order seen by Reuters.

The attack sparked outrage on social media and among political and religious figures in Pakistan, who condemned the incident, saying that there was no room for such extreme behaviour. 

The Supreme Court's judge arrived in Jaranwala with his wife and visited the Christian colony. Justice Isa reviewed the situation of the houses and churches that were attacked earlier this week.

"Three days have passed since the incident and the streets are still not clean," said Justice Isa while expressing displeasure with the deputy commissioner and directing him to get the streets cleaned immediately. 

Expressing regret over the incident, the senior puisne judge met the victims, assuring them of all-out support. He told the Christian community that they have equal rights as everyone else, adding that all citizens are equal. 

Speaking to the Christian victims, Justice Isa said that it was the duty of Muslims to catch the perpetrators if churches are attacked. He added that Christians have equal rights to build a church as Muslims have to build a mosque. 

During his visit, the judge and his wife also provided financial assistance to the victims and distributed food packages among them. 

"I am here as a citizen and it is everyone's duty to help you," he told the victims.

34 nominated, 600 unknown suspects booked

According to a The News report, the city's police have registered a case against 34 and nominated 600 unknown under 18 sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) following the incident. 

The publication further claimed that 29 nominated suspects have been arrested in connection with the Wednesday rampage.

The police on Thursday also nominated Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) Jaranwala President Mufti Mohammad Younis Rizvi and Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) leader Syed Asifullah Shah in the case. 

Separately, caretaker Chief Minister Punjab Mohsin Naqvi said both individuals, accused of desecrating the Holy Quran, had been arrested by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD). 

'Swift action'

Meanwhile, Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch had said Pakistan was fully determined to protect and promote the constitutionally-guaranteed rights and freedoms of individuals belonging to religious minorities.

In a statement, she said as a country following law and Constitution, Pakistan could not accept the intolerant and violent incident in Faisalabad.

She said these acts are illegal and unconstitutional.

"Our law enforcement authorities took swift action yesterday. They have been instructed by the prime minister to apprehend the culprits and bring them to justice," she added.