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Brothers ‘framed’ for Jaranwala desecration freed after acquittal

Courtesy: Dawn News

TOBA TEK SINGH: An Anti-Terrorism Court in Faisalabad on Friday acquitted two brothers who were arrested on accusations of desecrating the Holy Quran, after it emerged that they had been framed.

A Faisalabad ATC judge let the two men off the hook in the blasphemy case, registered on Aug 16, 2023, after dozens of Christian homes and around 20 churches were vandalised and ransacked by mobs in Jaranwala.

While police rounded up more than 125 suspected rioters, the two men had also been held on the accusation that they defaced pages of the Muslim holy book.

However, a police investigation revealed that two other individuals — who apparently had a personal enmity with the two brothers — had plotted to implicate them in a blasphemy case.

Police investigation finds rivals’ plot to implicate pair over personal enmity

Those two were also arrested, and are still in jail.

Tahir Bashir, a Lahore-based human rights lawyer who argued the brothers’ case, said that a police investigation had exonerated both the men, after which the court also set them at liberty.

Mr Bashir said he had filed an application under CrPC

Section 265-K, contending that no incriminating material was available against the two brothers and nothing had been recovered from their possession, so proceeding against them would be a futile exercise.

The lawyers said that after hearing his arguments, the court acquitted both brothers of blasphemy charges, adding that the pair had been released from jail following the court’s order.

“They are free, they are with their family. They were very happy to be released,” he told AFP.

Hundreds of Christians fled Jaranwala’s Christian quarter last summer when rioters surged in, setting churches ablaze and raiding homes.

At its peak, the mob is said to have numbered around 5,000 and was spurred by mosque loudspeakers announcing that a copy of the Holy Quran had been desecrated. However, law enforcers had cast doubts on the allegations early on.

The Supreme Court is also hearing a case related to the Jaranwala incident, and at the last hearing, it regretted that state functionaries become intimidated by troublemakers, who take law into their own hands only to advance their agenda by provoking people to launch attacks against properties of members of religious minorities.

The apex court had also rejected the police report, noting that the manner in which the investigation had been conducted and the apparent hesitation shown by law-enforcement agencies in identifying the culprits would only bring disrepute to the force.

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