Last month’s mob attacks on several churches and Christian homes in eastern Pakistan were sparked by personal disputes, police said Monday (4/9).
Police said three Christian residents threw pages of the Koran in the yard of two other people’s houses to deliberately create the impression that the two people were committing religious blasphemy.
The three suspects who have now been detained admitted to conspiring and throwing several pages of the Muslim holy book outside Raja Amir’s house, police said. Amir and his brother were later arrested by police after they were accused by Muslims of desecrating the Koran.
The alleged mastermind was Pervez Kodu, who thought Amir was having an affair with his wife and knew that Muslims would target Amir if Kodu dumped pages of the Koran near Amir’s house to give the impression that Amir had desecrated the holy book, police said.
The police officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media directly. The police said the three men now face charges of causing violence and implicating Amir and his brother in a religious blasphemy case.
Khalid Mukhtar, a local pastor, said he had heard about the arrest of the three men and told the Associated Press that he was trying to get details of the investigation from police.
At least 17 churches and nearly 100 houses were damaged in a mob attack on August 16 in Jaranwala, a town in Punjab province. There were no casualties but this was one of the most destructive attacks on Christians in the country.
Since then, authorities have repaired much of the church and distributed thousands of dollars to nearly 100 families whose homes were destroyed or damaged.
Police have also arrested nearly 200 Muslims for their involvement in the attack.
Under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, anyone found guilty of insulting Islam can be sentenced to death. Although authorities have never imposed the death penalty for blasphemy, often unverified accusations encourage mobs to commit violence and lynching. (ab/lt)