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Over 140 Arrested in Connection with Jaranwala Incident

Caretaker Punjab chief minister claims government will restore all ransacked properties, including churches, by next week

by Staff Report

Members of the mob vandalize a church in Jaranwala

Police on Thursday announced they had arrested at least 140 alleged culprits, including two prime suspects, and registered five cases against them over the violence inflicted against the Christian community in the Jaranwala district of Faisalabad that left over 20 churches and several homes torched.

According to the police, FIRs have been registered under sections 295 (desecration of a worship place) and 295A (hurting religious feelings) of the Pakistan Penal Code, while some of the FIRs also include Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act. Among the detained suspects is Muhammad Yasin, who was identified through a video shared on social media as one of the individuals inciting Muslims to target Christians via announcements from mosques. Police have said they are also searching for more suspects on the basis of videos shared on social media.

“Major breakthrough in the Jaranwala Incident—both main accused now in CTD [counter-terrorism department] custody,” said Punjab caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi in a posting on X, formerly Twitter. “Appreciation for chief secretary Punjab and IG Punjab for their relentless efforts. Prime minister’s unwavering concern guided us, driving the swift arrest process. Grateful for the trust he placed in our team, fueling record-time arrests,” he added.

Addressing a meeting of clerics of various sects and religions, Naqvi reiterated his condemnations of the Jaranwala incident and alleged it had been the result of a “planned conspiracy to sabotage peace in the country.” He claimed the Punjab government would repair and restore all churches and homes of Christians destroyed by the mob by next week, adding a plan was in place to prevent the recurrence of such incidents by enhancing coordination with minorities’ representatives.

According to a preliminary report of the Jaranwala incident prepared by the Special Branch, the mob set fire to 16 churches; the Christian community says 20 were ransacked, including four unregistered places of worship. It said people had started gathering around 8:15 a.m., forcing the closure of business centers and attracting people from nearby cities and villages. It said the rioters had vandalized and set fire to various homes of Christians and churches around 11 a.m.

The report stated that several Christian families had been forced to spent the night in fields and desolated places to avoid retaliation after their homes were burnt. However, it said, some families had started to return after peace had been restored.

Also on Thursday, Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman Tahir Ashrafi demanded that Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial punish the miscreants that had attacked the churches in Jaranwala. Stressing that it was likely that this incident would not have happened if the courts had punished the people responsible for the attack on the Joseph Colony in 2013, he said Islam teaches respect for all prophets and divine books.

Demanding the government compensate the losses incurred by Christians during the rioting, he apologized to Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw on behalf of all Pakistanis and the government for the violence his community had suffered at the hands of the mob.

The archbishop, meanwhile, demanded a transparent investigation and indiscriminate action against all culprits. He said the main intention of this incident was to spread the anarchy in the country and regretted that it had destroyed the image of the country.

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