SC rejects Punjab’s report on Badami Bagh arson

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The Supreme Court (SC) has rejected Punjab government’s report on the Badami Baghi arson and directed the provincial government to re-file the report by March 13.

A three-member bench of the SC presided over by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry issued an interim order on Monday while conducting hearing of the suo motu notice of the Badami Bagh Lahore arson.

The interim order said “prima facie, the Punjab IG police, CCPO and city police officer failed in providing protection to the people. Different stories are being told to the court that election was being held in Loha market and a Christian committed blasphemy during the elections. It is beyond comprehension of the court how can the inmates of Joseph Colony be linked to Loha market”.

The acting Punjab IGP, Punjab advocate general and other senior officers appeared in the court.

The court was told that election was going on in Loha market when the incident took place and a member of Christian community committed blasphemy. During the Juma discourse, people were incited and they resorted to rioting.

Justice Azmat Saeed remarked, “You had said with pride that people were pulled out of the blaze and no loss to life occurred. Where were the people kept after they were evacuated from the area? You have said in the report that some people had left the area on their own and the remaining were evacuated by police.”

The CJP said, “Nothing can be said about the reasons and proceedings in your report. The court’s time has been wasted by the report. Police have not even conducted investigation to ascertain what was the real cause of the incident. Is there no honest officer left in Punjab police? The Punjab government has again talked about formation of a commission. If this commission has to meet the same end the Gojra commission did, it should better be left.”

Meanwhile, the court summoned the report on Gojra incident and expressed regret when it was informed of its unavailability.

The CJP remarked, “Nothing is above the sanctity of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The blasphemy law is in place. Action should be taken per law. The entire Rimsha case proved false earlier. Whenever any minorities-related incident happens, the Punjab government stays unmoved. A police officer which the court restrains the government from appointing is vehemently appointed and courts orders are blown into the air.”

He said the court should be told who staged riots after 36 hours and “under whose orders was area vacated”.

“The IGP should inform who he was affording benefit. Now even little things cannot remain concealed and this was a major incident. No one will be allowed to violate the law. When the culprit had been under arrest, why did the riots occur?”

The CJP said there was a mode for voicing protest. “An effective mode of protest was pursued in Quetta. Protests took place but not a single glass was smashed.”

Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed said it appeared the area that came under attack was commercial and the entire thing was engineered to get the land evacuated. “The court should be informed of the value of the land.”

Justice Gulzar Ahmad said “rioting continued and police played the role of a silent spectator. Police is equally responsible for the incident”.

The advocate general told the court that the decision to evacuate the area was not taken by senior officers and it was the decision of an SHO.