118 Jaranwala attack suspects handed to police on physical remand

    A judicial magistrate in Jaranwala on Thursday issued physical remand until August 30 for 118 arrested suspects named in 21 FIRs registered for the burning of churches and houses belonging to Christians on Aug 16.

    The riots occurred following the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran.

    The suspects were presented before the court after their initial five-day remand, which had been issued earlier, ended on Thursday. The police had requested a seven-day extension for their remand.

    Sources say other suspects, who were also arrested, are already in police custody on physical remand.

    After the registration of 16 more first information reports, including 11 by Jaranwala City and five by Saddar police, the number of FIRs has reached 21, all of which are related to the Aug 16 riots that occurred after the alleged incident of desecration of the Holy Quran.

    The registration of these 16 new FIRs was initiated at the request of Christian community leaders, who pointed out that although 21 churches were reportedly burned, cases had only been registered for five of them.

    These new FIRs contain identical charges of attacking and setting fire to churches, pages of holy books, furniture, and other valuables. All of them feature similar sections, including 295 and 295A, 427, 436, 148, and 149 of the PPC, as well as Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997. In all these cases, 100 to 150 unidentified miscreants have been booked.

    Sources indicate 16 complainants include Shahbaz Masih, the administrator of New Apostolic Church of Chak 61 GB, Asher Masih of Satsangat Church in the same village, Javed Barkat Masih of Salvation Army Church in the same village, Hashir Ashraf, the administrator of Pak Khushkhabri Church in the same village, Naveed Mukhtar, the administrator of Peace Mission International Church of Chak 120 GB, Gulzar Masih, the administrator of House of God Church Chak 238 GB Makkoana, Muneeb Masih, the administrator of the Catholic Church in the same village, Adnan Michael, the administrator of KGM Church of Chak 126 GB, Fr Israel Peter, the administrator of Presbyterian Church in the same village; Shahzad Masih, the administrator of Hope for Life Church in the same village, Shafqat Bhatti, the administrator of Mission Compound Church in Muhallah Camp, Afzaal Masih, the administrator of Yahuwaeri Church of Chak 240 GB, Siddiq Masih, the administrator of Salvation Army Church in the same village; Adnan Masih, the administrator of UP Church in Muhallah Farooq Park; and Habib Masih, the administrator of Salvation Army Church in Asad Park.

    Sources add that the total number of suspects across all 21 FIRs exceeds 3,000. So far, 160 identified suspects have been arrested. The process of identifying the remaining suspects is underway.

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