• Thursday, September 21, 2023


Special unit formed by Islamabad Police to protect minority places of worship

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

A 70-member special unit has been established by the Islamabad Police on Thursday (17) in response to the escalating incidents of attacks targeting religious minorities in Pakistan.

The primary purpose of this unit is the “protection of minority places of worship and communities” in the national capital.

“Seventy jawans (policemen) have been posted in the ‘Minority Protection Unit’,” the Islamabad police said in a post on Twitter.

It said all district police officers will be responsible for the protection of minority places of worship and communities in their areas.

The unit, established as per the recommendations of the National Minorities Commission, will perform its duties under the supervision of SSP operations.

“Liaison with minority committees will be strengthened at each divisional level,” the police added.

It further stated that the unit policemen have also been selected from the recent recruitment for the Minority Protection Unit.

The move comes a day after an enraged mob ransacked and torched 21 churches and several houses of Christians over blasphemy allegations in Jaranwala town of Faisalabad district, 130 km from Punjab’s provincial capital Lahore.

A Christian cemetery and the office of the local assistant commissioner were also vandalised.

Police in the Jaranwala area on Thursday took a ‘curfew-like’ measure to restore peace and arrested over 100 suspects including activists of radical Islamists Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) for their alleged involvement in violence a day earlier.

More than 3,000 policemen and two companies of Pakistan Rangers have been deployed in Jaranwala following Wednesday’s riots.

The government has imposed section 144 prohibiting the gathering of four or more people in Jaranwala. Besides, all educational institutions, business centres and markets remained closed in Jaranwala on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Punjab government has issued directions to form a high-level inquiry committee to investigate the incident, in line with orders issued by caretaker prime minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar.

The incident sparked nationwide outrage from all political parties, civil society and the media.

Minorities including Christians and Hindus in Pakistan have frequently been subjected to blasphemy allegations and some were tried and even sentenced under the tough blasphemy.

According to a report by the Centre for Peace and Justice Pakistan in June last year, based on data collected from the National Database and Registration Authority, Pakistan is home to 22,10,566 people from the minority Hindu community followed by Christians 18,73,348.



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