ISLAMABAD: The Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) is calling for justice as four years have past since a horrific attack on Christian neighbourhood in Gojra.
It was on 1st August 2009 that a Muslim mob rampaged the town, burning eight people to death, including children, while torching dozens of homes. This attack was prompted by reports that local Christians had desecrated the Holy Book of Islam; a crime punishable by life imprisonment under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
According to reports,” some eye witnesses claimed that the police stood by and ignored pleas for help from the Christians as the attack unfolded.” In the instant upshot, “there were promises that the perpetrators would be caught and punished.”
Despite the fact that four years have passed, not a soul has ever been brought to justice for the riot and Christians in the area doubt if anyone ever will. A first round investigation shortly after the attack concluded that,” the Holy text had not been desecrated as alleged.”
Police also arrested dozens of suspects, up till now no one was ever brought to trial or imprisoned. There were reports that,” witnesses were intimidated and that police drew up a charge sheet attempting to re-frame the attack as an instance of communal violence between Christians and Muslims, rather than an attack by Muslims on Christians.”
Subsequently, a judicial tribunal was established to look into the attack furthermore, recorded the statements of some 580 people. However, it assumed that the report recommends amendments to the blasphemy laws and censures the police over its complete failure to respond adequately to the attack.
CLAAS is profoundly troubled that after four years, so little has been done to bring the perpetrators of one of the worst anti-Christian riots in Pakistan. Nasir Saeed, Director of CLAAS UK, said: “The inaction and bewildering lack of urgency in holding the culprits of the Gojra violence to account has set a dreadful and terrifying precedent – that those who attack and murder Christians in Pakistan are likely to get away with it. Persecution of Christians will continue so long as there is no deterrent to stop radical Muslims doing what they like and taking the law into their own hands. It is imperative that the authorities do whatever it takes to see the perpetrators caught, tried and punished. Otherwise we can expect more innocent blood to be shed.”