Pakistan troops quell riots amid claims of Quran desecration

Thursday, 17 August 2023 (17:53 IST)
Pakistan has deployed paramilitary troops to restore order in Jaranwala, in eastern Punjab, after a rampaging mob set alight several churches and ransacked homes over claims that two men desecrated the Quran.
Troops cordoned off the predominantly Christian area blocking all entry and exit points with barbed wire.
More than 120 people suspected of being involved in the rioting had been arrested and the situation was under control, Rizwan Khan, the regional police chief, said.
Schools and offices have been closed, and local authorities have banned rallies for a week.
Police searching for men who allegedly desecrated the Quran
The violence erupted on Wednesday after two men allegedly tore out pages from a Quran, throwing them on the ground and writing insulting remarks on other pages.
Caretaker Pakistani Prime Minister Anwaarul-ul-Haq Kakar called for stern action against those responsible for the violence.
"I am gutted by the visuals coming out," he said.

The police also sought to arrest the men for violating the blasphemy law.
Blasphemy — where the accused are deemed to have insulted Islam or Islamic figures — is punishable by death in Pakistan.
While no one has ever been executed for it, there are cases of angry crowds lynching accused individuals.
Violence widely condemned
According to Pakistani Bishop Azad Marshall from the neighboring city of Lahore, the events have caused deep pain and distress among the Christian community.
"We cry out for justice and action from law enforcement and those who dispense justice and the safety of all citizens to intervene immediately and assure us that our lives are valuable in our own homeland," he posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Washington on Wednesday voiced alarm at the latest attacks
US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said that while the United States backed free expression, "violence or the threat of violence is never an acceptable form of expression."
The government has ordered an inquiry into the incident.

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