Pakistan News

545 booked under ATA for vandalising church

545 booked under ATA for vandalising church

LAHORE: Police registered a case on Monday under anti-terrorism act against the people who had vandalized a church in Basti Dhoop Sarri in Sanda and wounded several policemen deployed there to protect it on Sunday night.

Police said the case had been registered against 545 people on charges of terrorism and attacking a place of worship. Around 40 suspects have already been arrested.

“Some 500-600 people have been booked under terrorism charges for vandalising the church, damaging public and private property and injuring 10 policemen,” Iqbal Town SP (Investigation) Ijaz Shafi Dogar told Dawn.

Read: ‘Desecration’: mob lets loose ire on police

He said the situation in the area was under control and police were trying to maintain peace.

He said that 45 people were named in the FIR while others remained ‘unidentified’. “We are conducting raids for more arrests, especially those who have been named in the FIR,” the SP said.

Mr Dogar said the case was registered against the assailants on behalf of the state under sections 7ATA, 295-A, 432, 436, 148 and 149 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Scores of people had gathered outside the Gulshan-i-Ravi police station on Sunday night to protest the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran by a Christian youth earlier in the day and demanded that the suspect be handed over to them.

They dispersed when police assured them that a case had been registered against the suspect under the blasphemy laws (295-B), but they reassembled in Basti Dhoop Sarri to attack the church and the house of the suspect.

In the meantime, a police party led by DIG (Operations) Haider Ashraf reached the scene and had to use the force when the mob attacked them.

Tensions ran high in the area after Sunday evening’s incident.

There is a long history of religion-based trouble in the county and Lahore and its surroundings have been at the centre of some ugly faith-related incidents in the recent past.

In March 2013, Christian residents of Joseph Colony, Lahore, were attacked, leading to destruction on a large scale.

In November 2014, a Christian couple was burnt to death in Kot Radha Kishan, an hour’s drive towards south of the Punjab capital.

Then in March this year, police was posted at various churches in the wake of violence following suicide attacks in a church in Youhanabad.

Iqbal Town SP (Operations) Muhammad Iqbal said a local leader of the Shabab-i-Milli, Tariq, had gathered the mob to torch the churches in Basti Dhoop Sarri. He said police timely acted, averted the incident and saved the Christian community.

He said police had baton-charged and used teargas on protestors when policemen were pelted with stones.

He said police were deployed to guard the churches and residential localities of Christians in the area.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2015

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