Islamabad: Criticising the Punjab government and police for a second time this week, Pakistan`s Supreme Court on Wednesday asked officials to explain why they failed to prevent an attack on a Christian area of Lahore in which some 160 homes were ransacked and burnt.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, who took suo motu notice of the attack last week, said during a hearing today that the violence could have been avoided.
"We would like to have a clear stance (from the Punjab) government on the failure to provide protection to people," he said.
In a short order, a three-judge bench led by the Chief Justice said the Punjab government has failed to establish the cause of the attack on Joseph Colony in Lahore on March 9.
The bench rejected a report submitted by the provincial government, saying that "nothing has been produced to establish the causes of the incident...We need a specific reply".
A mob of over 3,000 Muslims rampaged through Joseph Colony on Saturday, looting and burning homes after a Christian sanitation worker was accused of blasphemy.
The Supreme Court had pulled up the Punjab government and police on Monday for failing to prevent the attack, saying there was "a total retreat by the state" when the mob rampaged through the Christian area.
The apex court has been very critical of the police, saying that officials had failed to act even though the attack was carried out several days after the allegation of blasphemy was made by a Muslim man.
"Similarly, no specific reply has been submitted in the report about the conduct of police officers, including the (Punjab Police chief), city police chief and the local in-charge of police in the area," the Chief Justice said during today`s hearing.
Police officials and local residents have said the Muslim man accused Savan Masih, the Christian sanitary worker, of blasphemy after a drunken argument.