Many of the Pakistani Christians affected by the terrible violence that took place in Chak 362 JB, Korian, a village in Punjab Province on July 30, 2009, which resulted in over 50 houses and four churches burnt by extremists are still in shock, but many now say they are slowly being "healed," reports Anjum Paul and Dan Wooding, special to ASSIST News Service.
The violence was sparked by blasphemy rumors that a Christian, Mr. Talib Masih, and his family, had allegedly desecrated the Qur’an (the Holy Book of Muslims) during a marriage ceremony.
Then on August 1, 2009, it got much worse when Muslim extremists burnt to death seven Christians and at least 68 homes and two churches were burned down in the nearby Christian Colony of Gojra in the district of Toba Tek Singh.
But now has come the news that the residents of these two villages are encouraged by the legal and relief efforts of the government of Punjab and are feeling "healed."
Already some 101 accused of participating in the terrible Gojra and Korian incidents have been arrested and so far the cases of 189 those also accused have been sent to the court.
This was revealed by Mr. Rana Sana Ullah, Provincial Minister of Law in the government of the Punjab and Chairman of the Rehabilitation Committee of the affected places of Korian and Gojra.
He insisted the sub committee which has been especially constituted to provide legal and relief aid to the affectees to play role for the arrest of the 29 accused who have not yet been arrested.
So far, 68 houses and two churches have been reconstructed in the Christian Colony of Gojra as well as 49 houses and four churches in Korian. Those affected in both of the places have moved to their houses.
Mr. Ullah He further said that there will be an approval of funds by Mr. Mian Shehbaz Sharif, Chief Minister of Punjab for compensation of the movable articles of the affected Christians of both of the places.
Mr. Kamran Michael, Provincial Minister of Human Rights and Minorities Affairs, Mr. Tahir Khalil Sindhu, Advocate, Parliamentary Secretary of Human Rights and Minorities Affairs, Mr. Amir Joel, MPA, Rt. Rev. Bishop Joseph Coutts of the Diocese of Faisalabad, Rev. Father Shafiq Hadayat, Mr. Haseeb Ather, Provincial Secretary Literacy and in charge of the development affairs, Mr. Tahir Hussain, Commissioner Faisalabad Division, Mr. Aman Ullah Khan , District Coordination Officer Toba Tek Singh, Mr. Rana Ahmad Hassan , District Police Officer Toba Tek Singh, Mr. Asad Zaman Cheema, Town Nazim Gojra, and officers of the concerned departments, recently participated in a meeting in the circuit house Faisalabad to evaluate the legal and relief works that are taking place in Korian and Gojra. Mr. Ullah chaired the meeting.
Mr. Kamran Michael, Minister of Human Rights and Minorities Affairs expressed his views saying that the Punjab government is doing its best for the relief of those affected by the violence in both of the places. He further said that provincial government will not leave them alone but will “celebrate Christmas with them.”
He added that a committee of 14 persons has been constituted which will examine if there is need to provide cash to those affected.
Mr. Kamran Michael said that six out of 20 of the accused have been declared innocent, but the committee has asked the Inspector General of Police to re-interrogate the six accused stating that these must be presented before the committee and if committee declares them innocent only then they can be released.
Mr. Michael said that it was surprising that out of 20 accused two were the district officers and they had been suspended by the government of the Punjab. After the recommendations of the judicial inquiry it was written that they were “not fit for service.”
He claimed that the federal government has shown a “dual standard” in this regard as when the government of the Punjab expelled them from the province the federal government appointed them on the attractive posts in the other areas outside Punjab.
Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti, Federal Minister of Minorities Affairs held the then DCO and DPO responsible for the tragic incidents.
Mr. Michael said the he wanted Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti to “take a stand on this issue” against the negligence of the cowardly officers as both of the officers were federal employees. Federal government, he went on, must not have dual standard on this humanitarian issue because Christians in Pakistan are really in anger by the action of federal government which has given relief to the accused officer instead of punishing them.
Affected by the violence in Pakistan are slowly being ‘healed’
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