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Wednesday, April 17, 2024  
09 Shawwal 1445  

SC rejects Punjab govt report on Jaranwala incident

CJP Qazi Faez Isa says report of the Punjab government is ‘worth throwing in the trash’
A police officer walks past the belongings of residents along a street in a Christian neighbourhood, a day after the church buildings and houses were vandalised by a mob in Jaranwala. Reuters/File
A police officer walks past the belongings of residents along a street in a Christian neighbourhood, a day after the church buildings and houses were vandalised by a mob in Jaranwala. Reuters/File

The Supreme Court rejected on Tuesday the caretaker Punjab government’s report on the Jaranwala tragedy and sought a new one from it within 10 days.

The report of the Punjab government was “worth throwing in the trash,” Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa said as a three-member bench resumed the case proceedings in the 2023 Jaranwala tragedy.

Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Musarrat Hilali were also part of the bench.

The apex court also issued notices to the federal government, all provincial governments, the Pakistan Broadcasters Association, and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority.

A violent mob of hundreds ransacked and torched churches, attacked the residences of members of the Christian community, and the office of the local assistant commissioner after the Holy Quran was allegedly desecrated in Jaranwala town of Punjab’s Faisalabad district on August 16, 2023.

The tragedy shocked the entire nation, with caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar saying that those who incited violence against the minority had other goals to achieve.

Over 100 people were arrested after mobs vandalised multiple churches and attacked homes belonging to the Christian community. An initial report of property loss stated that at least 19 churches and 86 houses were torched during the rampage.

The reaction from CJP Isa came after the interim government submitted the report to the apex court.

While hearing the case, CJP Isa said he was “feeling ashamed” to see the report. He asked the additional advocate general of Punjab how many people have so far been arrested since the tragedy occurred.

The incident occurred on August 16, 2023, 22 cases were registered, and 304 people were arrested, the additional advocate general of Punjab informed the court.

He added that challan for 18 out of the 22 first information reports have been submitted to the courts.

CJP Isa said that only 18 challans were submitted in six months. He wondered what the government was doing as it has been raising the issue of Islamophobia on different platforms.

He asked the additional advocate general of Punjab whether he “wanted to copy” what was happening with non-Muslims in India.

The CJP asked did police saw churches being burned down.

The top court stated that the government and especially the media should play a role in ending extremism, violence, terrorism, religious sectarianism, and hatred in the country.

The media under Section 20 of the PEMRA Ordinance should make special messages for religious harmony part of their broadcast.

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In its order, the court made strict observations on the conduct of Punjab police.

The Punjab police know about the real people behind the Jaranwala tragedy, the order said and added that police were showing cowardice and weakness.

“Police lost the trust by not stopping the attackers,” it said and added that it would be wrong to call the document submitted by the Attorney General’s Office a “report”.

The top court observed that such incidents occurred due to a lack of education, hate, and wrong use of religion.

The SC also sought details of minorities’ places of worship within two months from the government and adjourned the hearing of the case for an indefinite period.

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Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa

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