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Pakistan: Mob assaults Christian man, torches house over ‘blasphemy’ in Sargodha

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An angry mob assaulted a Christian person, vandalized his house, and torched properties alleging an incident of ‘blasphemy’ in Sargodha city in Pakistan on Saturday, Geo News reported.

This is one of the many episodes that highlight the precarious situation faced by religious minorities in Pakistan, who continue to face the threats of persecution and attacks.

The incident happened in Mujahid Colony in Sargodha, Punjab province. The enraged mob torched a shoe factory established within the victim’s house. They also burnt tyres and damaged electricity installations in the area.

The situation was brought under control after a heavy contingent of police reached the spot.

The police managed to shift the injured victim, along with other wounded individuals, to a hospital in an ambulance before taking several suspects involved in the incident into custody.

Regional Police Officer (RPO) Shariq Kamal confirmed that the mob also attacked the police party with stones, but they were later dispersed, as reported by Geo News.

The RPO said the incident was being investigated and that those who “disturbed the law and order” would be dealt with strictly.

Meanwhile, Sargodha District Police Officer Asad Ejaz Malhi told Dawn that the incident happened over an incident of alleged desecration. The police cordoned off two houses in the colony and “safely recovered all the residents,” he said.

Unverified footage on social media showed a mob surrounding an injured man and separate videos showing men, some of whom appeared to be teenagers, wrecking furniture outside a house, according to Dawn.

Being asked about the videos, DPO Malhi said that these were “fake videos” and insisted that no one was hurt in Sargodha district. “Police is maintaining law and order,” he added.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed concerns over the situation in Sargodha and urged the Punjab Police and district administration to restore calm in the area and bring the perpetrators to justice immediately.

“HRCP is seriously concerned by the unfolding situation in #Sargodha, where the Christian community in Gillwala village is reportedly at grave risk to their lives at the hands of charged mobs. There are unconfirmed reports of a man having been allegedly lynched,” the HRCP posted on X.

“The Punjab police @OfficialDPRPP and district administration must immediately restore calm and bring the perpetrators to book while ensuring that the Christian community comes to no further harm,” it added.

In August last year, a similar incident but with greater magnitude happened in Pakistan’s Jaranwala.

Over 21 churches and more than a hundred houses were burned down, some reduced to rubble, in the Jaranwala mob attack over allegations of ‘blasphemy’. This was combined with widespread looting and burning of hundreds of homes across 11 areas in the Faisalabad district. Moreover, 10,000 Christians were moved immediately and 20,000 were affected by the incident.