Two victims of Karachi tragedy lay to rest on last day of mourning with protest rallies by youth.


KARACHI: September 28. Hundreds of Christians on Saturday paid their final respects to two of the seven charity workers who were gagged and mercilessly shot to death on September 25. The body of Benjamin Talib was driven in a hearse from St Peter'

Today (September 28) was the last day of a Christian mourning period that lasted three days and saw loud Protest rallies, neighborhood wakes and group prayer sessions. Dozens of men and women began assembling in the graveyard at noon on Saturday--an hour before the burial of Benjamin was to take place. Most of them circled round the rose-petal covered grave of young Edwin Foster, who was buried on the same day of the shooting, and silently prayed for the deceased and his family. The ritual continued with each group of mourners, until hundreds of youths finally entered the cemetery carrying the casket with the mortal remains of Benjamin. Three of the dead youth's closest relatives fell unconscious at the sight of the casket and had to be carried away from the gravesite. A female relative kept wailing hysterically, "Take me with you, Benji." Tears streaming down her face, she cried, "Benji... You can't leave me like this. Your Family needs you so badly." Another two women fainted in the crowd as the last rites were read. Standing alongside the grieving men and women was the Church of Pakistan bishop, the Rt Rev Sadiq Daniel, as Well as five Catholic priests and nuns, whose combined presence seemed to have a soothing effect on the emotionally charged crowd. Their anger at the senseless killing of their loved ones was defused for the most part but they were still inconsolable over their loss. About two hours later the Christian clergymen returned to the cemetery to perform the final rites for Kamran. Earlier scores of mourners from Benjamin's funeral walked all the way to Qayyumabad to become part of the funeral cortege that left Kamran's home. The clergymen eulogized the deceased as a man who gave his life in the way of the cross.

They repeated their message of love and peace and urged Christians to face their fate bravely. "This is neither the first such attack and certainly not the last," said Fr Emmanuel, a Franciscan priest. "We anticipate more attacks. God has taught us to be brave. Let us be brave in this tragedy as well."

The funerals of the other four slain men will be held on Sunday at different timings. Although the Christian Public clamored for a joint funeral the proposal was believed to have been vetoed by the city administration out of security fears. "Massive numbers of people would have spilled into the streets of the City and into the graveyard and created a security nightmare for everyone," a church official said. "We thought it better to go for individual burials," he said. But a majority of the Christian mourners were deeply upset by the decision. "The people were angry. So were the Christian politicians. We had a lot of convincing to do," a Catholic priest said. "But in The end they settled for this staggered arrangement."

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