By Jawad Mazhar, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent reporting from Pakistan
SARGODHA, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– Christians in Pakistan’s Punjab province feared more violence Thursday, October 15, after authorities released on bail six suspected Muslim militants accused of anti-Christian clashes that killed nearly a dozen people, while acquitting an alleged Muslim rapist of a Christian girl.
The news emerged as Pakistani security forces battled suspected Muslim militants who killed dozens of people Thursday, October 15, in attacks against police.
The district and sessions court of Toba Tek Singh released Muhammad Adnan, Muhammad Ammar, Muhammad Safdar, Ali Raza, Javed-ur-Rehman and Amer Hayyat after each of them posted bail in the amount of 50,000 Pakistani Rupee ($600), trial observers said.
They were allegedly involved of inciting and carrying out attacks against Christians in Gojra where 11 Christians were killed and over 40 Christian homes were burned down.
ALLEGED RAPIST ACQUITTED
Elsewhere a local court acquitted an influential Muslim, who was only identified as Najjam, on charges of raping the daughter of his Christian tenant.
Family members of the girl, Nadia Bibi, told BosNewsLife the man had “heavily bribed” court officials as there was “solid evidence” linking him to the rape.
Police earlier detained Najjam for allegedly raping the girl at gunpoint in March in the village of Chack 98-NB, which is part of Punjab’s city of Sargodha.
These latest releases came after 13 Muslims, held for allegedly attacking Christians, were granted bail by a Lahore high court on September 7, Christians said. The cases have underscored concerns within Pakistan’s
Christian minority about the growing influence of Muslim militants who want to impose strict Islamic law in several parts of the country.
The Pakistani federal government has pledged to battle Islamic extremism amid reports Thursday, October 15, that teams of gunmen attacked three security sites in the eastern city of Lahore while a suicide bomber hit a northwestern town, killing a total of 37 people.
ESCALATING TERROR WAVE
The strikes were part of an escalating wave of terror aimed at scuttling a planned offensive into the militant heartland on the Afghan border, officials said.
Christians are often in the cross fire of these attacks and the target themselves, BosNewsLife established.
However with local authorities apparently cooperating with Muslim militants, there is concern that rights of minorities are not respected. “I am sure that soon after securing their release, they will resume their anti-Christianity activities again,” said Khalid Gill, an official of All Pakistani Minorities Alliance, a major Christian political party in Pakistan in published remarks.
U.S.-based advocacy group International Christian Concern (ICC) said it was concerned about the decision by courts to release “fanatics”. “We are disappointed with the decision of the Pakistani court to release the fanatics responsible for carnage against Christians in [the town of] Gojra,” explained ICC representative Jonathan Racho in a statement to BosNewsLife.
“We are concerned with the impunity with which Muslims are allowed to commit violence against Christians. This latest release sends the wrong message to extremists who are waiting to perpetrate more violence against Christian minorities in Pakistan.”