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Multiple churches vandalised in Faisalabad’s Jaranwala over blasphemy allegations

Courtesy: Dawn News

An enraged mob vandalised multiple churches in the Jaranwala tehsil of Faisalabad on Wednesday over blasphemy allegations, officials said.

A Christian leader, Akmal Bhatti, said the crowd had torched at least five churches and looted valuables from houses that had been abandoned by their owners after clerics made announcements in mosques inciting the mob.

Images on social media showed smoke rising from the church buildings and people setting fire to furniture that had been dragged from them. Dozens of people also blocked a nearby highway.

Jaranwala pastor Imran Bhatti told that the ransacked churches included the Salvation Army Church, United Presbyterian Church, Allied Foundation Church and Shehroonwala Church situated in the Isa Nagri area.


He added that the mob also demolished the house of a Christian cleaner, accused of blasphemy.

Meanwhile, the police registered a first information report against the accused under sections 295B (defiling, etc., of the Holy Quran) and 295C (use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Speaking to, Punjab police chief Usman Anwar said the police were negotiating with the protesters and the area had been cordoned off.

“There are narrow lanes [in the area] in which small two to three marla churches are located and there is one main church … they have vandalised portions of the churches,” he said.

The official stated that efforts were under way to contain the situation by engaging with peace committees and police across the province had been activated.

“The assistant commissioner of the area, a member of the Christian community, has also been evacuated after people turned against him,” Anwar added.

On the other hand, Christian leaders alleged that the police remained silent spectators.

Separately, Punjab Home Department spokesperson Amjad Kalyar confirmed that a request seeking the deployment of Rangers in the area had been sent to the department, but a decision was yet to be taken on it.

Later in the evening, newly-appointed interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar said stern action would be taken against those who violate the law and target minorities.

“All law enforcement has been asked to apprehend culprits and bring them to justice,” he said on X (formerly Twitter), assuring that the government stood with “our citizenry on equal basis”.

Anwaar ul Haq Kakar@anwaar_kakar
I am gutted by the visuals coming out of Jaranwala,#Faisalabad. Stern action would be taken against those who violate law and target minorities. All law enforcement has been asked to apprehend culprits and bring them to justice. Rest assured that the government of Pakistan stands with our citizenry on equal basis
Bishop Azad Marshall@BishopAzadM

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