Joseph Colony incident: SC asks Punjab to explain failure
14 March, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed dissatisfaction with the Punjab government over the arson attack on a Christian neighbourhood in Lahore and sought its clear stance over its failure to protect the lives and property of the people as well as on the conduct of the police officers in the incident.
During the hearing of the suo motu case regarding the Joseph Colony incident, the Punjab Police admitted before the court that the SHO concerned was compelled to register a blasphemy case against a Christian man under pressure because an unruly mob had started growing in the area. A provincial police officer has also revealed before the three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, that the complainant had not mentioned use of any derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in his application, therefore the SHO was reluctant to register the FIR against the accused.
He also said that the complainant and two witnesses in the blasphemy case were absconders in another FIR regarding the incident, in which 178 houses of the Christians were burnt by the mob. The Punjab Police officer also said that there were two groups in the area, one of which was trying to resolve the matter, while the other group, led by Tariq Gujar and Usman Butt, planned demonstrations, therefore the SHO was compelled to registrar the FIR against the accused.
He told the court that the blasphemy accused stated during investigation that he was intoxicated and did not know what he had done at the time. Meanwhile, the court observed that if the Punjab government had implemented the recommendations of Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman report on the Gojra incident, this incident could have be avoided. It also observed that the Punjab government had failed to establish the cause of this incident and find out the real culprit. It said that the Punjab Police has itself admitted in the report that the security system had failed to give relief to the people.
The court questioned why were security personnel not deputed for the protection of the people's properties. It noted that there was a contradiction between the reports of the Punjab government and the Punjab Police, but both reports were silent about why the Joseph Colony residents were compelled to leave their home before the attack, in which 178 houses were burnt. The hearing of the case has been adjourned until March 18.