A summary of events as shared by Dr. Arif Alvi [Sec General of PTI] as he narrated his conversation with one of his party members who was in Gojra to investigate the horrific incident which involved the killing of seven Christians
A lot of detail has been published in the newspapers today. Brig. (R) Samson Sharaf of PTI visited Gojra yesterday and has met and interviewed a lot of people.
He informs us that the incident started at a wedding reception where there was some misbehaviour by a drunk person. On my query he said it was a Pakistani but on my insistence he just said that the person did not belong to the Christian community but of the majority religion in Pakistan. This person was, as courteously as possible in such a situation, escorted out.
But he and his friends reacted and created a scene and started making allegations. The easiest way to put non-muslims on the defensive in Pakistan is an accusation of blasphemy. It is like Karo Kari where an allegation is enough for criminals to unleash their venom.
Some of the local maulvis were informed and they started inciting the muslims in the area. The reaction was further inflamed by a person Qadeer Awan (who is an official of PML-N) who sent people to Jhang to import activists, some of whom came masked and surrounded the Christian village. There was firing into the village and some christians defending the village by firing in the air to scare away the people. Police was present but took only evasive action and used teargassing. This continued for 5 hours and then busloads of people joined the mob, with the police backing away, ransacked the entire village and burnt six Christians alive and shot dead one.
For more than a day the government did not register an FIR and it the scared Chrisitan community as they felt that this was being done to allow FIR’s to be registered on a blasphemy case despite the fact that the Prime Minister was on record that no such thing had actually happened. Another suspected reason for not having registered an immediate FIR was also the intense involvement of some PML-N people. The community along with the dead bodies protested and blocked the highway.
The FIR was finally registered and the demand of the community was agreed to in naming government officials responsible for their inaction in registering the FIR. I have be told through confirmed sources that the Chief of Army Staff had to use his offices to have this done.
Those responsible should be brought to justice quickly under the anti-terrorism act and given severe examplary punishments to end this game of false accustaions and murder.
Minorities suffer all manner of humiliation through false accusations made under these laws. In the present state, intolerance and violence in Pakistan, the Balsphemy Law is a tool in the hands of extremist elements to settle personal scores against members of religious minorities. The Laws themselves provide non-specific and vague definition of blasphemy, yet blasphemy carries a mandatory death sentence in some cases. There are also serious problems with the mechanisms to implement the Laws. Since the mandatory death sentence was introduced as a result of Amendment Act No. III (1986) to Section 295-C, many innocent people have lost their lives, including some accused persons who had not been brought to trial. For example, Niamat Ahmer, Tahir Iqbal and Manzoor Masih were killed even before the courts could hear the cases registered against them. Some of you would also remember the killing of Jagdish Kumar in Karachi by a violent mob of co-workers in April 2008, dozens took part and hundreds watched. No action has yet been taken or has made news.
According to human rights reports there was no blasphemy involved but a personal incident and enmity, which is usual in all such cases. Urgent action is needed to punish the culprits, including negligent officials is desperately needed to assuage the feelings of our Christain brothers and sisters, and to ensure future quick action if there is any danger of such violence.