On May 25, 2024, a violent mob attacked a Christian factory owner named Nazir (Lazar) Masih and his family in the Mujahid Colony area of Sargodha, following rumours that he had burned pages of the Holy Quran. The incident began in the early morning when misinformation spread that Masih had desecrated the Quran while burning rubbish. This baseless accusation quickly incited a mob, which brutally assaulted Masih, dragged him into the street, and set his house and shoe factory on fire, destroying all raw materials and packaging.

Eyewitnesses described the mob as highly charged, with children actively participating in the destruction and women filming the incident on their phones. The attack was reportedly incited by Masih’s neighbour, Irfan Ayub Gondal, who harboured jealousy towards Masih’s business success. A few days prior, an altercation between the children of both families had further fuelled tensions. Gondal seized the opportunity to incite violence by falsely accusing Masih of burning the Quran when he saw the family burning old and useless papers.

As the mob gathered, it grew increasingly violent, attacking Masih’s property without attempting to verify the facts. The attackers torched Masih’s house and factory, reducing them to ashes. Tahir Naveed Choudhry, Ex-MPA Punjab and an advocate, confirmed that no Quran pages were burned, and the family was merely disposing of waste.

Police were called to the scene to control the situation. District Police Officer (DPO) Dr. Asad led the response, using tear gas to disperse the mob and arresting dozens of individuals. The police are currently analysing CCTV footage to identify all involved perpetrators. Commissioner Sargodha Division, Muhammad Ajmal Bhatti, condemned the incident and assured a transparent investigation. He emphasized that those responsible for spreading false accusations and inciting violence would face legal consequences.

Sargodha Police Spokesman Abid Hussain confirmed that law and order had been largely restored. The police, in coordination with local community members, managed to rescue Masih and his family, relocating them to a safe location. Although no lives were lost during the incident, one person was injured and is in stable condition. The attack left the Christian community in Mujahid Colony, which includes several families and a local church, gripped by fear as the mob threatened to extend their violence to other Christian properties. Police intervention prevented further escalation and protected the church from potential vandalism.

This incident highlights serious concerns about mob justice and religious intolerance in Pakistan. Authorities are urged to take strong action against the perpetrators to prevent such incidents in the future. The call for peaceful coexistence and respect for religious diversity remains crucial in these volatile times.

In the aftermath, local and international human rights organizations have condemned the attack and called for immediate reforms to prevent the misuse of blasphemy laws, which are often exploited to settle personal vendettas. The police and administrative agencies have been praised for their swift response in controlling the situation, but there is a growing demand for more stringent measures to ensure the protection of religious minorities in Pakistan.

The local Christian community continues to appeal for justice and has requested additional security measures to safeguard against further attacks. There is also a push for educational campaigns to promote interfaith harmony and prevent the spread of false rumours that can lead to such violent outbreaks. The government’s commitment to a transparent investigation and the swift action taken by the police provide some reassurance, but the need for long-term solutions to address religious intolerance remains pressing.