A People’s Inquiry into ‘Countering Religion-based Violence’ held by a panel of experts concluded that the version of the police regarding the investigation has been shifting from one assumption to the other, from foreign conspiracy to honour crime to personal interests in the Jaranwala incident.
The experts’ panel consisted upon of Justice (R) Nasira Javed Iqbal, Hina Jillani Advocate, Jamshed Rehmat Ullah advocate, Bishop Azad Marshal, Peter Jacob, and Saroop Ijaz advocate. Earlier, a Faisalabad Police spokesperson claimed to unearth the real motive behind the Jaranwala tragedy in which dozens of Christian community houses and churches were burnt drew widespread condemnation.
A police spokesperson said that the incident took place due to the personal grudge between two members of the Christian faith. The recent police version of the investigation does not support the assertion made by the Punjab Inspector General of Police’s version regarding the involvement of foreign elements in the Jaranwala violence, for which he is yet to present any proof. The eyewitnesses as well as the victims confirmed in their testimonies that the mob violence in Jaranwala was a pre-planned activity for political motives.
The inquiry observed that the police were reluctant to apprehend the actual perpetrators of incitement through planted blasphemy charges. Hence, a narrative emboldens the extremist outfits politicizing blasphemy accusations on one hand and victimizing the members of the Christian community in Sargodha and Jaranwala.
The inquiry further observed that the police are making a conscious attempt to cover up the mob violence, and have understated the looting of belongings, destruction, and arson of Churches and houses in Jaranwala incident, and they are carrying out illegal arbitrary detentions of men, women, and children in the name of investigation, which seems to be an attempt to pressurise the Christian community not to pursue cases and seek justice.
Speaking on the occasion, the executive director of Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Peter Jacob demanded a fair and impartial investigation in all cases involving blasphemy accusations.
The chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Hina Jillani stated that civil society condemns the lawlessness, particularly the arbitrary detentions of children and women in Jaranwala.
She encouraged civil society and national human rights institutions to monitor the situation to ensure a fair and transparent investigation and trial.
Victims and witnesses who had experienced mob violence on 16 August in Jaranwala stated that it was the failure and indifference of the police that made mob violence and looting possible
The police illegally detained those Christians for several days in the name of investigation who were not nominated in FIR including; men, women, and children.
Although 36 detainees were released, however, many are still in police custody according to reports.