Senate Committee Report on Sangla Hill incident for our readers. Who was present from Christian leadership to bargain on desecration of Churches in meeting with Muslims?


1. In the event of an ethnic clash between the Muslim and the Christian Minority of Sangla Hill, the Muslims, on the morning of 12th of November 2005, set ablaze two Churches and gutted down two Pastors' Houses as well as the school building of St. Anthony's along with the Convent. Consequently, a case was registered at Police Station city Sangla Hill on 12/11/2005 vide F.I.R no.150/2005 under Section 436/296/148/149 read with Section 16 MPO and Section 7ATA against 86 persons named in the F.I.R and some others. (Copy of the F.I.R. is attached) 2. This incident had sparked off on account of alleged torching of Quran Mahel on 11/11/2005situated in the Stadium of Sangla Hill by one Yousaf Masih. The details of the incident are spelt out in the FIR registered in this behalf at Police Station city Sangla Hill under Section 295-B PPC. (Copy of the F.I.R. is attached) 3. In reaction to the incident of setting fire to the Quran Mahel the Muslim mob reacted sharply and set ablaze religious institutions of the Christian Minority comprising largely the Churches, Pastors' Houses, the school, girls' hostel, the Nuns residence (Convent). The details of which were and spelt out in F.I.R. no. 150 dated 12/11/2005. The Police after the registration of cases tried to control the situation by taking in custody Yousaf Masih who was accused of torching Quran Mahel and also 86 residents who, according to the F.I.R, were involved in setting ablaze the Christian Properties. 4. Both the Christian and the Muslim communities were accusing each other of desecrating and burning down each other's properties and religious books. The Government of Punjab set up a commission of enquiry headed by the District and Sessions judge Nankana to determine the true facts. 5. The learned District and Sessions judge recorded statements of all the persons who claimed to be familiar with both the incidents. The law enforcing agencies were also taken on board to elicit the truth of the matter. In the final analysis the Sessions Judge found the version of the Christian Minority as correct and also endorsed the version spelt out in FIR no. 148 relating to setting ablaze of Quran Mahel by Yousaf Masih. (Copy of the report however was not publicized lest it may adversely affect the prosecution of both the cases.) 6. It may be relevant to add that police also proceeded to investigate both F.I.R.s and submitted challan against Yousaf Masih under Section 295-B and also against 74 persons in FIR no. 150 under Section 436/296, Section 16 MPO read with Section 7 ATA. The remaining 12 however were declared innocent and recommended to be discharged. They have since been released on bail. Other accused in both the FIRs are still lodged in district jail, Sheikhupura. 7. That the National Press took a serious note of this event. Every body that mattered expressed strong condemnation of this incident. The religious parties condemned it in equally strong terms. The Legislators too demonstrated their condemnation of the incident. The Government of Punjab appointed Commission of Enquiry headed by District Session Judge. In view of the evidence recorded it transpired that this incident had ignited on account of dispute over gambling between Christian and Muslim youth. 8. A motion was moved in the Senate by Senator Dr. Khalid Ranjha that full-fledged debate be held to determine the causes of this incident and to find ways and means to insure that such incidents do not re-occur in future. 9. The Senate Committee on Human Rights headed by Mr. S. M. Zaffar took a serious note of the matter and opted to appoint a committee comprising Dr. Khalid Ranjha as Coordinator and Mr. Abbas Komeli and Dr. Saad as its members. The committee had been authorized to co-opt any such persons deemed necessary to arrive at the truth indigent of the investigations and the report by the District and Sessions Judge Nankana. 10. The committee requested Dr. Nathaniel Gill advocate High Court Lahore (former chairman of Minority Advisory Council Punjab and Human Rights Activist). With his help, the committee was able to bring on board Choudhary Haroon Fateh Jung (Christian Advocate and Tehsil Counselor from Sangla), Pastor Yaqoob Bhatti (Chairman International Fellowship of Christian Ministries-IFCM), Ch. Ezra Shujhat (President Christian Lawyers Association Pakistan), Mary Gill (Law student). Co-opted members assured total participation of the Christian Community and Clergy of Sangla hill. 11. That the Senate committee with its associates visited Sangla on 14th January 2006. Mr. Sheikh Asif Jalani MPA gathered all concerned at Sangla Rest House. To be more exact, before the committee reached Sangla, with courtesy of Sheikh Asif Jalani MPA, Mohammad Tahir Munir Cheema Tehsil Nazim, Mohammad Zulfiqar Ali Rizvi Khateeb Jamai Masjid Sangla, Mian Mohammad Jameel Tahir Jamat Ahla-Hadith Sangla, Mohammad Zia-ul-Mustafa Rizvi Nazam-a-Ala Jamat Ahla-Sunnat Sangla, Mian Ijaz Hussain Bhatti Sadar Anjman Jafriya Sangla and Haji Mohammad Sharif Ameer Markazi Jamiat Ahla-Hadith were present at the Rest House. The Christian Community was represented by Father Samson Dilawar (Catholic community), Pastor Tajamul Pervaiz (head of Presbyterian Church Sangla) and Professor Hanooq Fateh Jung. Apart from the above-referred religious heads, the meeting was attended both by Christian and Muslim counselors of different Union Councils of Sangla. The DPO Nankana and other Police officials were also present. 12. The committee heard both the sides. The representatives of the Muslim Community very frankly conceded that the Christian community had been wronged at the hands of the Muslims. They expressed grave remorse and tendered unqualified apology on behalf of the wrongdoers and assured that such a breach would not take place in the future. The Khateeb Jamia Masjid that he was living in the community with the last 50 years and both the Christians and the Muslims were living in a most friendly manner highlighted it. The majority in fact would insist the minority in pursuing their religious activities with total freedom and never in the past had their been any rancor inter-se the members of both the communities. In fact, the work of the minority in the sphere of education and health were greatly appreciated. The leaders of the Christian Community also reciprocated with a positive note. 13. The committee visited the Churches, the school and the residence of the priests and found that the properties had been completely destroyed. The furniture had been burnt. Some of the roofs of the school had caved in on account of fire. The Catholic Church had been seemingly renovated in the face of forth coming Christmas celebrations. Other properties including the Presbyterian Church had been damaged beyond repair. The committee was informed that the Chief Minister had visited the gutted premises and sanctioned complete reconstruction of the same. 14. In the course of dialogue inter-se the Muslim and Christian Community Representatives it transpired that on account of the good offices of the local elders, both sides seeing reason had forgiven each other, tendered apologies to each other, sought forgiveness from each other and promised to refrain from doing anything which would displease the other side. A Punchiat had been constituted. Compromise arrived between the parties, had been reduced into writing and both the Christian and Muslim community had approached the police for withdrawal of their respective cases. Both sides that the police was very co-operative but the court was reluctant to cancel the cases agitated it. Consequently, every day's delay in the release of the accused was hampering the Solidarity to which both sides were committed. 15. During the meeting, it was further resolved that apart from the Government commitment to reconstruct the damaged property, a fund should be established in which there should be generous participation by the Muslim Community and the same should be spent on construction of Churches and Pastors Houses. This was proposed so that in future the Muslim majority should have a sense of ownership and respect for the Christian's places of worship. Dr. Khalid Ranjha announced a contribution of Rs. 5,00,000 from his Fund. The Nazim Sangla Hill offered to make a representation in this behalf for the grant announced. 16. It was also settled that in future the DPO would see to it that no case was registered under Section 295-A, -B, or -C without prior verification. The DPO who was present assured that in view of the settlement reached between the parties and the statements of witnesses recorded afresh, he would submit supplementary challans seeking cancellation of cases and acquittal/discharge of the accused. The committee endorsed the view that until the irritant of the F.I.R.s was not removed, the hard feelings would not subside. 17. In this view of the matter, nothing further was deemed necessary to be done. The committee parted expressing thanks to all who had played their role in forging peace and Harmony amongst the two communities of Sangla hill. Signed: Senator Dr. Khalid Ranjha (Co-ordinator) Senator Mr. Abbas Komeli (member) Senator Dr. Saad (member) Dated: 16th January, 2006.

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