44 identified and charged for Sargodha mob attack on Christian man

Sargodha Police have identified and booked 44 individuals for their alleged involvement in mob violence against a Christian man accused of desecrating the Holy Quran the previous day in the city’s Mujahid Colony, according to reports on Sunday.

On Saturday, the police rescued the man and two Christian families from an angry mob that sought to harm him and break into the homes of other minority community members.

The incident occurred after some residents found burnt pages near an electric pole and the houses of the Christian family.

The first information report (FIR) of the incident, filed shortly afterward, names another 350-450 unidentified armed individuals and women. It invokes sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) related to attempted murder, obstructing public officials, assaulting public officials, mischief by fire or explosive material, and unlawful assembly, among others.

The suspects are also charged under sections of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997 for acts of terrorism and lynching.

As per the FIR filed by Station House Officer (SHO) Shahid Iqbal, enraged locals armed with sticks, stones, and other weapons attempted to enter the victim’s house. Despite efforts by police, the Sargodha Peace Committee, and other residents to calm the mob and resolve the situation through dialogue, they were unsuccessful.

The mob set fire to a nearby shoe factory and tried to enter the victim’s house through adjoining roofs, according to the FIR. They also damaged electricity meters and outdoor AC units outside Maseeh’s home, which they then set ablaze.

SHO Iqbal and other police personnel managed to rescue the victim from the burning house. However, upon bringing him outside, they were surrounded by the mob, which attacked them with stones and sticks, causing severe injuries to the Christian man.

The FIR also alleges that women were among those inciting the crowd and encouraging violent behavior.

Rizwan Younus Gill, a nephew of the accused man, stated that his uncle was in stable condition. He denied allegations of desecration, mentioning a previous incident with a TLP activist, which was resolved through negotiations.

District Police Officer (DPO) Assad Ejaz Malhi commended head constable Aneesur Rehman for his heroic actions in rescuing the Christian families. Additional police units were deployed across the city to ensure the safety of the Christian community.

On the orders of Inspector General of Police Dr. Usman Anwar, security at churches across Punjab has been enhanced, as diligent police officers are stationed to safeguard Christian places of worship, according to a statement from the Punjab Police. DIG Mohammad Faisal Kamran visited churches in Lahore to inspect security arrangements personally, expressing satisfaction with the security measures in place.

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