Nazir Masih, a Christian Injured in Pakistan Attack Now in Stable Condition

A Christian man in Sargodha, Pakistan, who was critically injured in a mob attack on Saturday (May 25) following false allegations of blasphemy, is now in stable condition, according to sources.

The mob, incited by announcements from a mosque loudspeaker, assaulted 74-year-old Nazeer Masih Gill, vandalized his home, and set fire to his shoe factory in the Mujahid Colony area of Sargodha city.

“Gill underwent head surgery and is currently stable,” Inspector Shahid Iqbal of the Sargodha Urban Police Station said. “His family is safe and housed at a government guest house due to security concerns. They will be able to return home once the situation normalizes.”

Gill had burned waste paper in the street outside his home and had gone inside when someone threw a copy of the Quran into the fire, according to his nephew, Irfan Gill. A Muslim neighbor accused him of desecrating the Quran and incited local Muslims to attack him, he said.

A tense calm prevailed in Sargodha on Sunday (May 26), following a day of violence in Mujahid Colony triggered by the blasphemy allegations. Police arrested 26 Muslims in connection with the incident, registering a case against 44 named suspects and 300 to 400 unidentified rioters, sources reported.

Inspector Shahid Iqbal stated that the case against the rioters was registered under various sections of anti-terrorism laws and the Pakistan Penal Code, including charges of attempted murder, obstructing public officials in the discharge of their duties, assaulting a public official, and mischief by fire or explosive material with intent to destroy property or cause harm.

Iqbal, who was among the first to respond to the emergency call, said that police and members of the Sargodha Peace Committee had made extensive efforts to calm the mob. Despite their efforts, the rioters set fire to Nazeer Gill’s shoe factory and attempted to enter his house from adjoining buildings.

“The mob destroyed electricity meters and outdoor AC units outside Gill’s home and set them ablaze,” Iqbal said. “We rescued Gill from the burning building, but as soon as we brought him out, the mob began throwing stones at us and forcibly took him from our custody. They then proceeded to beat him with stones and sticks and also attacked us when we tried to intervene. At least 10 policemen were injured while trying to save him and transport him to the hospital.”

Raids on suspects were conducted following police reviews of CCTV footage and social media videos, Inspector Iqbal reported.

“We will make every effort to arrest and prosecute all those who took the law into their own hands,” Iqbal stated. “No one will be allowed to challenge the authority.”

He dismissed criticism of the police for failing to prevent the mob from assaulting Gill, emphasizing that the injuries sustained by his colleagues demonstrated their exhaustive efforts.

“Several Muslim residents and clerics played a positive role in the situation, enabling us to rescue Gill’s family. Without their intervention, the family might have also fallen victim to the violent mob,” he added.

A blasphemy case has been registered against Nazeer Gill, but the police are conducting a thorough and impartial investigation into the allegations to ensure due process is followed, Iqbal assured.

Another police official from Sargodha, speaking on anonymity, mentioned that local residents testified to the good reputation of the victim and his family, who had never been involved in religious conflicts.

“It is possible that this incident was manipulated by someone to entrap Gill and his family. We are committed to uncovering the truth and holding the responsible party accountable,” the official said.

Over 1,000 police personnel were deployed on Sunday to churches and Christian-populated areas in Sargodha District as officials began enforcing a seven-day ban on protests and sit-ins.

Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, a Christian politician from Sargodha, reported that several Christian families who had fled their homes on Saturday have started to return, reassured by the substantial police presence.

“I commend the local police and district officials for deploying sufficient personnel in our areas, which has bolstered our community’s confidence,” Chaudhry stated. “However, this marks the ninth blasphemy-related incident in Sargodha since 2023, and I urge the government to identify and punish those attempting to disrupt peace and incite communal discord according to the law.”

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