Sunday May 19, 2013
PAKISTAN: Christians Subjected to Violence in Lahore's Joseph ColonyShamim Masih Salem-News.com
I am very sad to report this latest incident of inhuman violence against Christians in Pakistan.
(BADAMI BAGH, Lahore Pakistan) - On March 08, 2013 at approximately 6:00 a.m. (PST), I was informed of an unpleasant alleged incident of blasphemy in the Christian vicinity of Joseph Colony, near General Bus Stand, North of Lahore-Punjab, Pakistan.
I was also informed of the registration of a Blasphemy case FIR offence under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) registered against a Christian. Keeping in view the sensitivity of the blasphemy incident, the British Pakistani Christian Association sent its representative Shamim to Lahore for fact-finding, so he went there immediately, visited the place of occurrence noted down the following facts:
Background alleged accused of Blasphemy:
The accused individual identified as Sawan Masih, age 35, is the son of Chaman Masih and a resident of Joseph Colony, Noor Road, Badami Bagh, Lahore. He is a sweeper (sanitary worker) by profession and a father of three children. Before the alleged incident of blasphemy he was residing with his parents. His house is located at the front row of the vicinity of Joseph Colony and he reportedly is a habitual drinker.
Sawan and the complainant, Shahid Imran, who is a barber by profession, were cordial with each other and their friendship was known to everyone in the locality. They were good friends over the last 8 years and both reportedly drank together.
Background blasphemy incident:
On Tuesday, March 05, 2013 at approximately 07:00 p.m., both Sawan Masih and Shahid Imran were drinking, then all of sudden they started quarreling with each other and a scuffle took place between them over a trivial matter.
When neighboring Christians noticed the brawl and exchange of abusive language, they intervened and the uncertain quarrel was arbitrated by the fellow residents.
Shahid Imran apparently took the grudge to heart and became annoyed by Sawan Masih. The complainant Shahid Imran, took exception to a Christian having insulted him and he threatened Sawan with dire consequences.
The complainant, Shahid Imran, was apparently driven to teach Sawan Masih a lesson and in making this connection, sources say he cunningly made a plan with Shafiq Ahmed to implicate Sawan Masih in the false case of blasphemy.
Later Shafiq Ahmed and Shahid Imran informed the cleric of the area mosque Qari Saifullaha about the false & forged the incident of blasphemy.
The first attack:
Friday, March 08, 2013 at 4:00 p.m. the cleric began communicating through the loudspeakers of the mosque, alleging that the accused, Sawan Masih, had committed blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad.
Following the broadcast, thousands of Muslim residents gathered and marched towards Joseph Colony chanting slogans. They began throwing stones at the houses of Christians.
Thousands of protestors demanded the immediate arrest of Sawan Masih and also attacked the houses of Christians. The angry protesters also started looting and crushing the households of Christians.
In the meanwhile, the police reached the spot and the protesters escaped from the place of occurrence. The attack results in many losses including breakdown, burning and crushing of households etc.
Secondly, the police warned the Christians to vacate their houses immediately. (this shows that the administration was aware of it). The innocent Christians including women and children, were immediately evacuated their houses wearing only light clothing, leaving behind their houses & possessions. The Christians were beaten badly and a vehicle belonging to a local bishop, Akram Gill, was damaged.
Registration of Blasphemy case FIR:
Later, the complainant filed an application and registered a blasphemy case FIR No. 112/13 offence 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) against Sawan Masih at the Police Station, Badami Bagh, Lahore. Shamim found that the man accused of blasphemy, Sawan Masih, was hiding from the violent attack, so the police arrested his father, Chaman Masih, who was badly beaten by the police. His father totally denied the allegations and was later released. Finally, Sawan Masih was handed over to the police.
The second attack
On March 09, 2013 near about 9:30 a.m., a fully charged mob of almost 4,000 religious zealots gathered around Joseph Colony, led by Shafiq Ahmed, who was involved in the search for the accused, Sawan Masih.
A heavy contingent of police was deployed near the colony and later. Still, the mob in the presence of the police entered in the colony and started looting, turning more than 200 hundred houses into fires. Two churches, along with a chapel were vandalized and approximately 500 hundred Bibles were burnt. The furniture and other belongings of the school was also burnt. The Christian houses were damaged or destroyed, along with eight shops, many motorcycles, auto rickshaws, electricity meters, and gas meters.
The episode of unspeakable violence in the name of religion began at 9:30 a.m. in the morning and did not conclude until the afternoon. One interesting point was that the large numbers of police present on the spot did not avert the angry protesters from committing further damage. They executed this exercise freely and without any fears for five hours and the police did not intervene or stop the violent mob. Some Christian youth, timely saved themselves as they fled from the scene.
The police ensured Christian leadership that if the alleged suspect were to be arrested, that the police will not be able to rescue the Christians.
Despite all this, the protesters continued to claim that they would not let the Christian families return until Sawan’s arrest. It was shown clearly that the police failed to inform them about the arrest and registration of blasphemy case FIR against Sawan Masih to the Muslims.
I headed the fact-finding along with few other people; Mr. Sardar Mushtaq Gill (Social Mobilizer), Mr. Yasoob Bhatti, a social rights activist.
At present, the victims have an immediate need for food, clothing, crockery, beddings, clean water, tea, biscuits and medicines etc.
Christians staged peaceful protest demonstration throughout Pakistan and in some places the police unjustly stopped the protesters and clashes resulted between police and the Christian protesters.
I am sharing this initial report to highlight the significance of the incident, assuring you that within a few days we will be able to share the full report.
We gravely need your prayers and support.
About Shamim Masih
"I am Christian rights activist and freelancer Pakistani journalist specializing in writing about Christians rights for the different papers in the world. My aim is to create a peaceful environment in the society and to help eliminate Christian persecution through my writing as I bring the plight of these brave people under the spotlight of the whole world."
Shamim Masih was born in Sheikhopura's village and raised in Gujranwala, a city in Pakistan's Punjab province. He earned his Bachelors Degree from the University of the Punjab, Lahore majoring in English, Economics and Statistics; he also received a Masters Degree in
As a freelance writer and author, Shamim has written for different papers in the world; his expertise is in writing articles highlighting different social issues. He has served as freelance chief reporter and column writer in “Minority Times” in Islamabad, and a number of Shamim's articles have been published in local papers as well.
You can write to Shamim at this address: email@example.com
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