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Friday, April 19, 2024  
09 Shawwal 1445  

Jaranwala’s Christian community awaits compensation as investigations drag on

Many families claim they have not been paid a single rupee

As Christians throughout the country celebrate Christmas, the residents of Jaranwala are still recovering from the ordeal they went through on August 16 when mobs burnt dozens and houses and churches in the area.

Speaking in a special edition of Spot Light, Father Khalid Mukhtar said that 78 people have been given checks worth Rs2 million by the government. However, he added that five to six people were still worried.

He said that there were five pastor houses, including his own which was three kilometres away from the church, which had been promised compensation by the government but it was yet to be received.

Mukhtar added that there were many houses which had not even been surveyed for damage yet and their complaints were languishing with the DC office.

He added that the community felt ‘hopeless’ regarding compensation.

The pastor added that 70% work in the colony’s churches has been compelted but rest still remains. Perhaps the government does not have funds, he added.

Mukhtar said that the colony was demanding that a judicia commission be set up to probe the events because investigation was not proceeding correctly.

He said that multiple people have been granted bail in the arson cases already from the anti-terrorism court and the high court. He added that the Christian community was not being told what had been found in the investigations.

He went on to say that a judicial commission would be able to investigate the matter better as it was clear that the police was not being just in many instances.

Mukhtar said that he had no problem with innocent people being released on bail but the community had had previous experiences such as Shanti Nagar, Sangla, Gojra, Joseph Colony, Kot Radha Kishan and others where not a single person had been punished.

Children from the Christian community have posted their messages inside the church, one of which said ’Give hope for life because cant want to live in Pakistan.“ Another message called for education to be given to Muslims so they do not misbehave with Christians.

Father Mukhtar said that the messages had been written in the immediate aftermath of the incident but the fear was still present in the community and would take a while to go away completely. He added that many families had taken shelter in the farms after the incident and could not forget the incident easily.

Victims still await compensation

Shafqat Kausar, a member of the community, said that she had not received anything from the government so far let alone Rs2 million.

She added that the repairs they had managed to make to their house had been through aid from friends and family.

Kausar said that the government aid cheque had been sent to her husband who had passed away and the money was not being released to her. She added that the city’s officials had been humiliating her and she had already made multiple trips to the city.

She added that while the house still had some smell, they had to keep living in it as they could not afford to rent another place.

However, she added while Christmas was difficult and there was fear of another attack, they would try to celebrate with happiness.

Another survivior, Bilquis Shafiq also said that she had not received the Rs2 million cheque from the government. She added that while her family’s name had been entered in the record, the NIC number next to it had belonged to someone else.

She said that a member of the Christian community was helping her repair the house.

However, she said that she would celebrate Christmas the same way she always had.

Process of compensation was ‘exemplary’: Police

Faisalabad’s SSP Operations Dr Rizwan said that the incident involved people at a mass level and there had been no safe city cameras available in the area.

He said that the only evidence availabale in such a situation was the Christian community’s version or the visual evidence. He added that there was no circumstantial evidence.

The SSP added that evidence of hate speech had been collected and sent to the DIC and the names of people involved could be put on fourth schedule.

He added that the police is open to a judicial commission but had never been asked its opinion.

The SSP said that on around 4 am on August 16, a man named Pervez ‘Kodu’, who has already been to prison for selling narcotics, had shifted from the Christian colony as his wife had an affair with someone.

He said that pervez had bought copies of Holy Quran, markers and bags and had told his friend, Bobby, about his plan of desecrating the books.

Rizwan said that many cases of blasphemy are registered under false claims and personal enmity but in this case the desecration actually took place.

He said that process of distributing compensation had been ‘exemplary’ as Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi had taken a personal interest in the matter.

Rizwan said that the inspector general had stayed in the city for five days and all five churches were renovated or rebuilt within 40 days.

He added that the issue had arisen when multiple families had been living in the same house but compensation had only been given to one.

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