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Saturday, 9 March 2013

Blasphemy accusation: Hundreds of Christians in Lahore forced to flee

Blasphemy accusation: Hundreds of Christians in Lahore forced to flee

Protesters claimed that they would not let the families return to their homes until the accused was arrested. PHOTO
A mob of almost 3,000 people, forced a Christian community to flee for their lives on Friday, leaving behind their houses and possessions.
This occurred in the Badami Bagh area, when one of the Christians was accused of blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
The charged group gathered around Joseph Colony on Noor Road, led by Shafiq Ahmed, who was in search of the accused Savan, alias Bubby. The mob attacked Savan’s house, partially burnt it and pelted it with stones. Other houses in the locality – home to about 150 Christian families – were also attacked.  Many residents, including women and children, hastily fled to save themselves.
Savan could not be found. However, his father was caught and badly beaten. The vehicle of a pastor, who reached the area to inquire about the incident, was also damaged.
The episode began at 1 pm in the afternoon and did not conclude till the evening, when a large number of police personnel finally reached the spot and averted further damage.
The police placated the mob by registering an FIR under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (death sentence) against Savan and ensuring that he would be given into their custody to decide his fate. They also took Chaman Masih into custody.
Despite all this, the protesters continued to claim that they would not let the families return until Savan’s arrest.
Shahid Imran, complainant in the FIR, told The Express Tribune that Savan would utter blasphemous remarks against the Holy Prophet (pbuh) from time to time. When it happened again on Thursday, he told his friend Shafiq, who took out a knife and went straight to Savan’s house. This visit bore no fruit. Then, on Friday, he incited other men to join him in punishing Savan.
According to Imran, the situation went out of control when people reached the spot after offering prayers under Qari Saifullah. Countless people had joined the mob, chanting slogans and throwing stones at the houses.
Qari Saifullah said that if they find Savan, they must cut him into pieces.
Human Liberation Commission of Pakistan Chairman Aslam Parvaiz Sahotra visited the site and told The Express Tribune that the police registered the FIR  after bowing to the pressure of the mob. However, the police did save children and women.