’59 in Custody Over Lynching of Christian Couple

Punjab police have so far arrested 59 people accused of involvement in the brutal lynching of a Christian couple in Kot Radha Kishan, according to a report submitted by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) tasked to investigate the incident.

 Radha Kishan lynching’

The report was submitted to the Supreme Court on behalf of Nadeem Abbas, the superinten­dent of police (SP) for Kasur, ahead of a Dec 16 hearing on the matter. The report states that of the 59 accused, 46 individuals were nominated in the FIR, whereas the remaining 13 were identified through the recorded statements of eight witnesses. In addition, the report states, 79 people are still at large. The inquiry report was furnished in compliance with the orders of Chief Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk, who had taken notice of the matter on Nov 10 and sought updates on the inquiries being conducted by the Punjab government and the provincial police officer (PPO). A three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by the chief justice and consisting of Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Mushir Alam, will take up the case on Tuesday. The five-member JIT, constituted on Nov 21, is headed by SP Abbas. Its report states that all 59 people were accused of instigating and torturing Sajjad Masih and his pregnant wife Saima, as well as inciting religious hatred.

While the police is doing all it can to arrest the remaining accused, the challan of those already in custody has been submitted to the Anti Terrorism Court No. IV Lahore by the JIT, the report said. The report also details efforts to ensure order in the area. Police personnel have been deployed in Clarkabad area — where the ill-fated couple lived — as well as the nearby Muslim locality of Rousa Bhel. The report admits that the charged crowd assaulted police officials and personnel when they tried to stop a group of 500 to 600 people from gathering at Yousaf Gujjar’s brick kiln, where the couple’s bodies were burnt. The Pakistan Catholic Bishops Conference, Karachi, and Major Superiors Leadership Confere­nce of Pakistan, Lahore, have already written to the chief justice, requesting that the clerics responsible for inciting violence against the couple through calls on mosque loudspeakers be held accountable and asked that a fair investigation be conducted to bring the perpetrators of the gruesome crime to justice.

Meanwhile, in compliance with the June 19 Supreme Court judgment on minority rights, the Punjab government has also submitted a report stating that strict instructions have been issued regarding intelligence gathering and ensuring the security of minorities and their places of worship. The same three-member bench will also take up the matter of the implementation of the June 19 judgment. Moreover, specific suggestions have been prepared, on the recommendation of a committee constituted by the Punjab Higher Education Department, to develop a curriculum that is sensitive towards minorities. 

The recommendations call for discouraging the myopic inter­pretations of texts and enco­urageing students and teachers to understand religion in the spirit of Islamic liberalism. The new curriculum suggests that students should learn that the cherished goal of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was the creation of a pluralistic society, where fundamental rights were respected. Students should also learn to discourage sectarianism, racial and ethnic biases, which are violative of shared values and fundamental rights. The federal government has already informed the Supreme Court that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had approved the constitution of a National Commission for Minorities to promote religious tolerance and harmony in the country. -dawn