JHELUM: Police have arrested up to 35 people over riots in the Jhelum, which reportedly forced members of the Ahmadi community to flee their homes, authorities said Tuesday.
The unrest began Friday when an angry mob in the city torched a factory after one of its employees, a member of the Ahmadi sect, was accused of committing blasphemy.
On Saturday, protesters ransacked an Ahmadi mosque in the congested Kala Gujran area of the city and set fire to some Ahmadi homes.
“Police have arrested up to 35 people in connection with the violence,” district police chief Mujahid Akbar told AFP.
Akbar said police were hunting up to 70 other people who incited others and indulged in violence.
Rangers were called in to quell the violence and remain deployed in the area, he added.
According to local councillor Muhammad Asif, around 18 Ahmadi families had left their homes for protection.
Eleven Ahmadis were murdered in 2014 and authorities have failed to apprehend any of the killers, highlighting growing intolerance toward the sect.
GUJRAT: Law-enforcement agencies (LEAs) in a mid-night raid captured more than 40 suspects in Jhelum for their alleged involvement in torching a chipboard factory owned by a member of Ahmadi community and its worship place at Kala Gojran locality following a “desecration” incident there.
Sources said the LEAs officials identified the suspects involved in torching the factory and Ahmadis’ worship place through video footage of the incident and then launched an operation to arrest them late on Sunday night. It continued till Monday morning during which at least 40 to 45 suspects were arrested, they added. They said the arrested suspects had been shifted to an undisclosed location for interrogation.
Jhelum Sadar police had lodged a case against some 85 suspects for torching the factory and worship place under different sections of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 7 of the Anti Terrorism Act (ATA).
The sources said more raids were likely in Kala Gojran and Rathian areas to detain other suspects.The situation in Jhelum was now under control, said an official of the Jhelum district government who wish not to be named.
The district witnessed unrest and agitation following alleged desecration of Holy Quran at a chipboard unit on Friday last during which the factory and a worship place of Ahmadis was set ablaze by a mob. Army and Rangers were requisitioned by the civil administration to control the situation.
The personnel of Rangers continued to patrol on Monday various parts of the city, especially its troubled areas.
Meanwhile, Rawalpindi Commissioner Zahid Saeed and Regional Police Officer Wisal Zafar Sultan spent another busy day in Jhelum on Monday where they held another detailed meeting with the local lawmakers, clerics, traders and prominent social figures for creating religious harmony in the area.
A meeting of the district intelligence committee was also held in the Jhelum DCO’s office during which, the sources said, overall situation of the district was reviewed. The officials attending the meeting also marked the potential trouble-makers.