Pakistan

Christian community targeted in mob attack in Sargodha

Two Christian families were rescued from a mob attack in Sargodha, which occurred at their homes in Mujahid Colony on Saturday morning, according to police officials.

Sargodha District Police Officer (DPO) Asad Ejaz Malhi confirmed the incident, which was triggered by allegations of desecration. He assured that a significant police force was deployed, preventing any fatalities.

“When police arrived, the mob had gathered outside the houses. Officers cordoned off the area and safely evacuated all residents,” DPO Malhi stated, adding that additional police units were positioned throughout the city to protect the Christian community in Sargodha.

Social media footage showed a mob attacking individuals and destroying property, while another video depicted a fire outside a house. DPO Malhi dismissed these as “fake videos,” insisting no injuries occurred.

However, a relative of one of the injured contradicted this. He said that his uncle was critically injured and the family was denied access to him at the hospital.

Minority Rights March released a statement alleging the mob lynched a 70-year-old man and set his home and factory on fire, instigated by a local cleric. They criticized the police for being passive during the attack, suggesting tacit approval of the violence.

Police intervene in mob attack in Sarghoda

In response, the Punjab police issued a statement detailing their prompt action. Sargodha Regional Police Officer Shariq Kamal, DPO Malhi, and other officials quickly intervened, saving 10 lives and controlling the situation. The police acknowledged injuries among their officers due to stone-pelting from the mob but confirmed there were no fatalities.

The police commended the district peace committee and the Christian community for their roles in restoring calm. Over 2,000 officers are currently on security duty, ensuring the protection of all citizens.

Punjab Home Affairs Secretary Noor-ul-Amin Mengal visited the site following directives from Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz. Mengal pledged a thorough investigation and affirmed that no injustice under the guise of religion would be tolerated.

A district peace committee, including officials and religious leaders from both Muslim and minority communities, will assess the situation and issue a statement. The Christian community is also expected to release their statement soon.

DPO Malhi confirmed the arrest of a suspect, with investigations ongoing, though he could not verify the alleged desecration.

Calls for immediate action and justice

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) expressed grave concern, urging immediate restoration of calm and justice for the Christian community. They highlighted unconfirmed reports of a lynching and demanded urgent action from Punjab Police and district administration.

Minority Rights March condemned the repeated failure of the state and law enforcement to address rising extremism. They called for a swift judicial inquiry into the incident and protection for any falsely accused individuals from the Christian community.

Human rights lawyer Jibran Nasir likened the mob attack in Sargodha to the Jaranwala incident. He criticized the state’s inaction, which he believes has emboldened perpetrators to exploit religious sentiments for criminal activities.

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