Police have arrested two Christians accused of blasphemy in eastern Pakistan, a spokesperson said on Friday, two days after a Muslim mob burnt churches and houses in a Christian settlement, accusing the two men of desecrating the Koran.
Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan and though no one has ever been executed, numerous accused people have been lynched by outraged mobs.
The police said it has so far rounded up 128 people involved in the attack on the Christian community in Jaranwala in the industrial district of the city of Faisalabad on Wednesday.
Multiple churches in a Christian neighbourhood of Jaranwala tehsil of Faisalabad were attacked on Wednesday by an enraged mob over an act of alleged desecration of the Holy Quran.
The police blocked all routes of the Isa Nagri – housing over 500 Christian families.
Superintended of Police Bilal Sulehri, along with Mufti Muhammad Yunus Rizvi and a heavy contingent of police, reached the Cinema Chowk of the area and appealed to the mob to remain peaceful.
He assured that teams had been formed to arrest the blasphemy accused and a case would be registered against them. However, the mob remained adamant on “hanging the accused”.
The locals of the area accused the police of standing by as spectators as hundreds of people, armed with sticks and batons, vandalized the churches besides ransacking and even burning their homes.
Separate media outlets quoted the interim Punjab government officials as saying that more than “100 people have been arrested for their involvement in riots over the alleged blasphemy in Faisalabad’s Jaranwala during which members of the Christian community were targeted”.
Media reports stated that a mob of over 100 people set ablaze the Salvation Army Church, one of the oldest in the area. The United Presbyterian Church, Allied Foundation Church and Shehrunwala Church were also ransacked.