My father passed peacefully, with his all children around him, adored by not just all of them, but their children as well, and evens a few of their children’s children. Brain Hemorrhage causes his death on January 01, 2015. After the funeral and memorial service, while sitting among relatives, Tareeza Yousaf w/o Yousaf Masih (blasphemy accused in Sangla Hill incident) told me that she and her family still facing the death threats and dire consequences around ten years of the incident.
In November 2005, Roman Catholic, Salvation Army, United Presbyterian Churches, a convent, a missionary school, a girls’ hostel and a pastor’s house were attacked at Sangla Hill. The attack was over allegation of violation of blasphemy laws by a Christian, Yousaf Masih. None of the perpetrators of the attacks has ever been punished ever since, while a judicial inquiry into the incident remains either incomplete or unpublished. But his family still suffers from dire consequences after the death of Yousaf Masih in 2008. She said her husband had been implicated in false blasphemy case been beaten severely causes his death after his released. Her son has been assaulted twice, while his brother was threatened while he was on the way back to home after his classes, she added.
Around 500 Christian families living in Sangla Hill left the town the night before the attacks of November 12, 2005. Widow of Yousaf Masih said that she noticed the increasing vitriol against Christians being spouted from mosque loudspeakers after a her husband Yousaf Masih was falsely accused of burning copies of Quran, and had fled before the riots to save their lives. All Christian families that had fled Sangla Hill had been unable to return because they feared they would be attacked and the police would not protect them. Some families after the riots reached an agreement with locals they could return to their homes, in exchange for dropping the charges against the accused. Later blasphemy case against Yousaf Masih was also dropped as part of the agreement.
Since then she is living in a hidden place with her children under constant threat of her children’s life. And nobody has been helping her out in daily routine life. She could hardly manage her livings. Since her husband remained in prison, Peter Jacob, ex-executive director of the Catholic Church in Pakistan’s National Commission for Justice and Peace had helped her to some extent. He reportedly got her family’s passports but didn’t manage their applications. Cecil S Chaudhry present director is not aware of this case, when I asked him to know his stance. He promised to call me back but he didn’t. It’s really horrible that people like this are not taking serious step to protect the life of victims. This is a county where Salman Taseer was murdered by his security guard for demanding reforms in blasphemy law and civil society can be attacked while commemorating the candle vigil after few years of his death. This is a country where Ayub Qaiser, blasphemy accused can be arrested after three years of living in hiding places. A place where Ryan Santan’s family is forced to live in hiding places while he has reportedly married to a Sri Lankan girl and looking for asylum in abroad. Pakistan is place of Islamists, where hundreds of the houses of the Christians can be burnt in a while like Sangla Hill, Shanti Nagar, Gojra and Joseph Colony, Lahore. And Christian couple is burnt alive without any solid evidence and judicial procedure.
This type of gory incident has surly rattled over 20 million followers of Christ Jesus in Pakistan and nearly 2.2 billion Christians living across the globe. But this is not a place where people can raise voice against terrorism and against threats to their values – free speech, the rule of law; democracy is seen in papers only. Insecurity is seen all around.