SC rejects Punjab’s progress report on Jaranwala vandalism

“I feel ashamed after seeing the report about the Jaranwala incident,” CJP Isa says

Police officials and residents stand amid debris outside the torched Saint John Church in Jaranwala on the outskirts of Faisalabad on August 17, 2023. — AFP
  • CJP Isa says Punjab govt’s report is “worth throwing in the trash”.
  • “I feel ashamed after seeing the report,’ he remarks during hearing.
  • AAG for Punjab says 304 people arrested for involvement in incident.

The Supreme Court Tuesday rejected the Punjab government’s progress report on the Jaranwala incident, with Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa saying it is “worth throwing in the trash”.

The chief justice’s remarks came during the hearing of a case pertaining to the rights of minorities where the provincial government of Punjab submitted its progress report about the incident.

On August 16, a charged crowd vandalised several churches and set scores of houses on fire in Jaranwala town of the industrial district of Faisalabad after clerics made announcements in mosques inciting the mob to attack the Christian community under alleged allegations of blasphemy.

Paramilitary troops were called in to handle the violence and bring the situation under control, according to a government order seen by Reuters.

Soon after the incident, CJP Isa, who was the chief justice designate at the time, visited the neighbourhood to meet and express solidarity with the Christian community. 

“I feel ashamed after seeing the report about the Jaranwala incident,” CJP Isa said.

Questioning the additional advocate general for Punjab, the chief justice asked when the Jaranwala incident took place and how many people were caught so far.

In his response, he said: “Jaranwala incident took place on August 16, 2023, 22 cases were registered, 304 people were arrested. [At least] 18 out of the 22 FIR challans have been collected.”

“MashaAllah only these 18 challans were issued in 6 months?” the chief justice remarked sarcastically.

CJP Isa lamented how Pakistanis make noise about Islamophobia in other countries but “what are they doing themselves?”.

“Do you want to copy the way non-Muslims in India are treated?” he questioned.

The chief justice asked the additional advocate general for Punjab about the time the first church was burned and at what is Fajr in August.

Meanwhile, the Superintendent of Police (SP) Investigation Faisalabad, who was probing the Jaranwala incident, said the Muslim community in the neighbourhood met and decided to take action on the blasphemous act.

“In Jaranwala, brave police stood watching the spectacle,” CJP Isa asked.

In his response, the SP investigation said: “The desecration of the Holy Quran took place at 5:15am, when the Quranic scrolls were installed in a desecrating manner.”

Soon after the brutal incident, the interim Punjab government ordered a high-level inquiry to probe the burning and demolishment of properties belonging to the local Christian community in the neighbourhood.

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