SC seeks fresh report over Joseph Colony incident

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the Punjab government’s report over the Joseph Colony incident and sought a fresh and comprehensive report over the incident.

A three member bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sh. Azmat Saeed, rejected the report, as it did not mention the reasons behind the incident and the action taken against the perpetrators.

Advocate General Punjab Ashtar Ausaf Ali presented before the court a preliminary report of the incident, according to which compensation had been paid to the victims of Joseph Colony. The report stated that the Punjab government had paid a compensation package of Rs 500,000 for each affected family and reconstruction the houses had been started.

During the hearing, the chief justice noted that providing compensation was government’s responsibility and asked why precautionary measures were not taken if there was information pertaining to the attack.

He said IG police should have left his post if he was not aware of the developments. He said the IG police; CCPO and SP City had failed to provide security to the citizens, despite having prior information about the incident. He said police seemed more engaged in providing protection to the criminals.

The court also expressed dismay over the failure to appoint a permanent IG in Punjab. The advocate general informed the court that despite a request, the federal government had not appointed a permanent IG. “Why police were not conducting a proper investigation and if there were any honest officers in the Punjab police”, the chief justice asked.

He asked the advocate general that who was the owner of the Joseph Colony land measuring about 20 Kanals and why residents of the area were forced to vacate. Justice Sh. Azmat Saeed noted that the landowner should have approached the court. He also asked that under whose directives, the area was vacated.

He said residents were being forced to vacate their homes, only three miles away from the IG office, adding that if the IG had received any information about the incident. Justice Gulzar Ahmed remarked that the police was a silent spectator during the mob attack.

The advocate general informed the court that according to the initial report this was not a land grabbing case, adding that the mob attack took place due to an alleged blasphemy. The chief justice observed that the sanctity of the Holy Prophet Muhammad PBUH was the supreme and action against the blasphemer should be taken according to the existing blasphemy law.

The court also summoned the report of the commission on the Gojra riots and asked why the findings of the commission were not made public. The court also cited protests in Quetta as a yardstick for how protests should be held. The protest during the Rimsha Masih case was also cited.

The court asked the Acting IG Police Punjab to tell that who was responsible for the incident and what benefits were achieved by targeting the minorities. The IG then stated that a blasphemy case was reported on March 7 and an FIR was registered on March 8.

The chief justice noted that the FIR was registered after 38 hours of the incident occurred. Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing until March 13. On March 9, a mob of over 3,000 people set ablaze more than 150 houses of Christians in the Joseph Colony over alleged blasphemous remarks against Prophet Muhammad PBUH by Sawan Masih, a 28yearold Christian sanitary worker.