Faisalabad Police took into custody two individuals who are accused of promoting violence against minority places of worship through announcements made at a mosque in Jaranwala. This development follows an order from the Punjab interim government for a comprehensive investigation, subsequent to a violent episode where a mob set fire to multiple churches and caused damage to homes belonging to Christians. Authorities reported the arrest of more than 100 individuals.
The Caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab, Mohsin Naqvi, stated that the primary suspects are currently detained by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD). Naqvi acknowledged the relentless efforts of Chief Secretary Zahid Akhtar Zaman and Inspector General Police Dr. Usman Anwar. He also mentioned that Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar provided guidance during the arrest process.
The incident unfolded when a large group of men attacked a predominantly Christian area on the outskirts of Faisalabad. The attack was prompted by allegations of desecration of the Holy Quran. Two cases related to the arson attacks have been filed in Jaranwala, naming 37 suspects and involving more than 600 unidentified individuals in the investigation.
The police reported that the attackers not only vandalized but also set fire to homes and churches. Multiple charges, including terrorism and blasphemy, have been filed against the accused, with 13 other provisions. One of the suspects, identified as Yasin, was apprehended based on a circulated video where he could be heard using a mosque loudspeaker to call people to gather.
Law enforcement is actively pursuing additional suspects involved in the incident by analyzing video footage. In response to the violence, Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar urged strong action against those responsible, expressing his distress over the disturbing visuals.
An initial report on the Jaranwala incident revealed that 16 churches were set ablaze. Protests began around 8:15 am and led to the closure of businesses. People from various cities and villages flocked to Jaranwala after mosque announcements. The report indicated that the protesters wreaked havoc by setting homes and churches on fire in the Christian colony around 11 am.
In response, the police resorted to baton charges and tear gas to disperse the protesters. Christian families, whose houses were destroyed, spent the night in open fields and remote locations to ensure their safety. Some families sought refuge in other areas with relatives. As the situation calmed down in Jaranwala, these families began returning to their homes.
To assess the damages caused by the incident, an eight-member committee, led by an additional revenue commissioner, was formed. The committee’s task is to evaluate the extent of the damage within three days.