The Minorities Alliance Pakistan (MAP) has alleged that the Government has failed to protect Christians at Jaranwala, Dawn News reported on August 22.
According to Dawn, MAP chairman Akmal Bhatti, addressing a press conference, said the country’s minorities have always played a role in the progress of the country but have been denied their fundamental rights since 1947.
The minority alliance leader also said every church in the town was ransacked and burnt, and the Government should be ashamed of its helplessness. He said the blasphemy laws were frequently misused against religious minorities, but such incidents are on the rise now.
Raising security concerns, he demanded a judicial commission led by a high court judge for a fair and transparent probe into the Jaranwala incident and arrest those directly involved along with their accomplices, if any, Dawn reported.
The victims must be taken on board for identification of the perpetrators, and a fair survey should be conducted to assess the damage, he demanded further, adding that all the victims must be compensated without any discrimination.
Other Christian leaders, including Fr Abid Tanveer, Sadaf Adna, Tasneem Dawood advocate, and Sarfraz Gill, were also present at the press conference, Dawn reported.
A total of 19 churches were completely gutted, and 89 Christian houses burnt down in recent violence targeting the Christian community in Jaranwala in Faisalabad, according to a fact-finding report of the Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP), the report stated.
Further, according to the HRFP report, in the August 16 Jaranwala mob attack, a total of 19 churches were burnt down, while some prayer rooms and community halls in two more were also affected.
It further said over 400 houses were affected in total, with 89 Christian houses, including those of pastors and priests, being completely gutted while 15 houses were partially destroyed.
The report stated that over 10,000 Christians hid in sugar cane and other fields, during the first night of attack.
Damages suffered due to Jaranwala blasphemy incident
In the Jaranwala blasphemy incident, the damages suffered due to the burning of churches and the houses of minorities have been estimated to be Pakistani Rupees (PKR) 67 million, reported Dawn.
According to estimates compiled by Faisalabad’s district administration, at least 22 churches were ransacked by mobs which suffered damages to the tune of PKR 29.1 million whereas 91 houses bore the brunt of violence and suffered losses to the tune of PKR 38.5 million.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul Haq Kakar visited Jaranwala on August 21 to express solidarity with the Christian community, days after the mobs attacked the house and churches over allegations of blasphemy.
However, Anwaar-ul Haq Kakar also distributed compensation cheques to the victims’ families whose houses were burnt down by the violent mobs, Dawn reported.
Moreover, the list of items destroyed by the mob included fans, air-conditioners, water filter plants, generators, carpets, furniture, and other electrical appliances. The interim PM said that it was the duty of the state to protect the lives and properties of religious minorities.
“It is the responsibility of the Government to ensure the safety of every citizen,” PM Anwaar-ul Haq Kakar said.
Moreover, the premier distributed cheques for PKR 2 million each among the members of the Christian community whose houses were destroyed during the violence, according to Dawn.
During a ceremony, Punjab Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi said that police are finding the suspects with the help of CCTV footage and geo-fencing. He also said that the culprits would be punished under the law. He added that financial assistance would be provided to each victim.