Catholics in Pakistan
Diocese of Faisalabad

Jaranwala incident: Attack on Christians

Jaranwala, Faisalabad: On 16th August 2023, some unknown persons placed Holy Quran on the residence of a Muslim at Jaranwala, District Faisalabad on which objectionable remarks were written. The name of one Christian Youth (along with his picture) was also written on the same. Later, in the morning a group of Muslim community started protest by blocking the roads and demanded the local authorities to arrest the culprit immediately.

Meanwhile, strength of the protesters increased by the passing of time and they started attack on a Catholic Church and the residents surrounding it at Christian Colony, Jaranwala and later set ablaze the church. Eye witnessed reported that Police contingents remained present on the occasion but remained helpless with the merging situation.

Fr. Khalid Mukhtar, while speaking to BBC’s, told that the most commotion has taken place in the Christian Colony. He said that after burning the church of Christian Colony, a group went to his residence Parish House in Nasir Colony and gathered outside it for more than two hours and protested. He also claimed that he himself was attacked by the angry mob and managed to escape after being trapped in his house for more than two hours.

According to Fr. Khalid Mukhtar, during this time, he also called the Police several times for help, but the Police did not come to his aid.

Estimated loss:
At least 22 Churches including a Parish House namely, St. Paul’s Parish House, Nasrat Colony Jaranwala have been ransacked / set ablaze. The parish house was blessed by Archbishop Joseph Arshad on November 28, 2018. Moreover, more than 220 houses had been burnt or damaged by the mob. However, no loss of life is reported, so far. A Christian cemetery and the office of the local assistant commissioner were also vandalized.

Also Read: NCJP strongly condemns Jaranwala incident

Statement of the President Catholic Bishops Conference of Pakistan
Archbishop Dr. Joseph Arshad, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan and Bishop of Islamabad, Rawalpindi strongly condemns the burning of Christian places of worship, holy places and houses in Jaranwala and calls for strict punishment of the attacking groups. He has appealed the Punjab government to take immediately and strict legal action against the attackers. Such incidents pave the way for insecurity for the minorities living in the country of Pakistan due to which our places of worship and people are not safe in any way. The Archbishop has also appealed for a transparent investigation into this tragic incident so that legal action can be taken against the guilty people.

Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, Archbishop Benny Mario Travas, Bishop Inderias Rehmat, Bishop Yousaf Sohan and Bishop Khalid Rehmat also strongly condemned the desecration of Christian places of worship, the Holy Cross and the Holy Bible and the burning of houses to ashes in Jaranwala. They appealed to the Punjab government to take strict legal action against such miscreants who violate the sanctity of religious places of worship and holy books and burn the houses of innocent people so that love, peace between religions can be established.

Condemnations from political parties:
After the incident, a routine/formal series of condemnation statements were issued from the leaders of major political parties. They consoled with the Christian community and assured their formal support for the community.

Latest Development:
– Currently, the situation is under control as heavy contingent of Police along with Punjab Rangers are present in the city.
– 128 people have been arrested.
– Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi has said that two main accused connected with Jaranwala incident have been arrested and they are currently in the custody of CTD.
– Section 144 enforced for 7 days in District Faisalabad, during this time, all kinds of protests, sit-ins, meetings, etc. will not be allowed throughout the district.
– The Punjab government has announced the formation of a high-level inquiry committee to investigate the incident. Punjab caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi promised on Thursday to “restore all churches and Christian homes” destroyed in Jaranwala violence a day earlier within three to four days.

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