Seven years on justice lingering for vicitms of Gojra cataclysm

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Despite seven years have passed, no justice served to the perpetrators who brought about anti-Christian violence in Gojra. According to Dawn news report on August 3, 2009- clashes started brewing on July 28 when a mob of hundreds set Christians’ houses on fire but the ferocity reaches its peak on August 1, 2009, Saturday.

Anti-Christians violence in Gojra

On August 1, 2009 around 8:30 am about 1000 men started marching towards the Christian Colony, defying police contingents already deployed at the scene. Witnesses claimed majority of the mobsters were masked men. The Christian Colony was home to about 350 Christian families, who heard the news of a mob gearing up to attack their neighborhood a day earlier but did not take the information seriously.

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Mob was incensed after three Christians Mukhtar Masih, Talib Masih and his son Imran Masih were accused of allegedly desecrating papers inscribed with verses of the Holy Quran at a wedding ceremony.

“We heard that a group was out to attack Christians in our colony over some incident of the desecration of the Holy Quran in the nearby village. Such allegations have been leveled against us in the past as well, and we thought the news about the mob was a rumor and even if something does happen, the Rangers will take care of it as they had been deployed in the area,” said Minhas Hameed one of the survivor.

75-year-old Hameed Masih, was the first victim of the ferocity. He was shot in the head and died at the spot. All of his family died. Other who were killed in the attack included Akhlas Masih, Asfa Bibi, Victoria Ashi, Seema Bibi, Umia Bibi, and a child who could not be identified. 7 Christians, including 3 women, were burnt alive two were killed by gunshots. According to Dawn news report on August 1, 75 houses of Christians were torched and two churches were ransacked. Some Muslims in the neighborhood provided shelter to Christian women.

Following the incident, the Punjab government had asked a senior judge to scrutinize the incident and figure out ways to prevent similar incidents in future. About 600 witnesses including senior politicians, intelligence officials and lay men were questioned. A 318-page report was presented which was publicized later in 2013. The report accused political leaders responsible for the carnage while recommended reforms to blasphemy laws in order to put off future violence.