Police intimidation and lax investigations into Islamist rioting that destroyed scores of Christian homes and businesses in Jaranwala, Pakistan, in August has dampened hopes of justice for the victims, sources said.
Police harassment of complainants and witnesses, officers deliberately arresting innocent bystanders instead of known assailants, and Christian leaders’ failure to ensure proper investigation and legal cases has resulted in most suspects walking free on bail, said former Jaranwala councillor Shakeel Bhatti.
RELATED: Check out more stories on the persecuted church here.
“The police deliberately picked up several people whose presence on the scene could not be corroborated with evidence,” Bhatti told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News. “We identified several suspects who were actively involved in the attacks, and there was video evidence against them too, but they haven’t been arrested yet despite repeated requests.”
Bhatti, the key force behind 17 Christian complainants who filed cases against those who looted and burned properties, said most suspects in five cases registered by the government had been granted bail due to ineffective police investigation. Those bails also benefitted the suspects in the 17 privately filed cases as the same Joint Investigative Teams (JIT) probed all the First Information Reports (FIRs), he said.
Pakistan ranked seventh on Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List of the most difficult places to be a Christian, as it was the previous year.