Pakistan human rights commission suspects that the rioters in Jaranwala were not a “spontaneous or random crowd” but part of a “larger campaign of hatred against local Christians”, the Dawn said in a report.
“Muslim religious groups have raised issues that have created communal tension in the near past. The mission has also learnt that several videos made during the attacks in different localities of Jaranwala are in circulation, showing members of a particular religious political party inciting the crowd to violence,” the report accessed by the Dawn said.
“Other factors reported above indicate that there could be larger political and social motives behind the attack,” the report compiled by Pakistan human rights chairperson Hina Jilani, Centre for Social Justice executive director Peter Jacob, senior Women’s Action Forum member Neelam Hussain, and historian and rights activist Dr Yaqoob Bangash said.
The report citing witnesses said that the attacks were premeditated and the attackers came from nearby villages and cities on bikes.
It said that the police officers in the area as well as the Pakistan Rangers could not assess the gravity of the situation and were too late to respond. The 10-hour delay by the Pakistan Rangers gave the mobs enough time to rampage and attack residents in the region.
A violent mob on August 16 ransacked and burned down almost 24 churches and attacked residences of Christian community in Jaranwala, claiming that members of the community desecrated the Quran.
They said they found several desecrated pages of the religious text near a house at Cinema Chowk in Jaranwala, where two Christian brothers resided.
The mobs created a rampage and caused damages worth PKR 68 million and almost 91 houses were burnt down.
The Punjab province’s caretaker chief minister Moshin Naqvi said “both main accused” in the case were arrested and the Counter Terrorism Department had put them in custody.
“One person attested that a tractor trolley full of people as well as several persons on motorbikes had arrived from a village, transporting men who then burnt down a church and houses,” the report said.
The human rights body also said that the damage by fire shows signs of “planned arson and deliberate desecration of religious symbols”.
The body also highlighted that members of the Shia community helped residents from the enraged mob.