Mob in Pakistan raids Christian colony in search of blasphemer

Last Updated: Sat, Mar 09, 2013 12:49 hrs

Lahore: A mob went on the rampage in a Christian-dominated neighbourhood in this eastern Pakistani city on Saturday following reports that a Christian man had committed blasphemy, burning scores of houses and driving out about 150 families.

The trouble began on Friday, when over 2,000 enraged Muslims gathered around Joseph Colony at Noor Road and pelted stones at the homes of 150 Christian families.

The mob was led by one Shafiq Ahmed, who claimed he was looking for a Christian named Savan Masih as he had allegedly committed blasphemy.

Though the mob could not trace Masih, some men found his 65-year-old father Chaman Masih and assaulted him. They then burnt Masih's home.

Late in the evening, the mob dispersed after a large police contingent was posted in the area and officials said they had registered an FIR against Masih under the blasphemy law.

On Saturday morning, a mob of over 3,000 people stormed Joseph Colony, driving out all the Christian families. Members of the mob then vandalized and burnt scores of homes.

Witnesses and local residents said policemen did nothing to stop them. Footage on television showed houses and cars on fire at Joseph Colony.

Smoke billowed out of the ruins of several houses as members of the mob stood watching on the streets.

The mob dispersed late in the afternoon after the cleric of a nearby mosque assured them that action would be taken against the alleged blasphemer.

Police officials said they had arrested 26-year-old Savan Masih on a charge of blasphemy.

Pervaiz Rashid, a spokesman for the PML(N) that rules Punjab province, said chief minister Shahbaz Sharif had ordered an inquiry into the incident.

He said stern action will be taken against those responsible for taking the law into their hands and storming the Christian neighbourhood.

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