HRFP Fact Findings Report on Jaranwala mob attack on Churches & Christians

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Faisalabad: Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP) has issued the fact-findings report on Jaranwala incident, a tehsil of district Faisalabad, where Churches and Christians have been attacked on 16 August 2023.

HRFP report based on direct information and evidence through the fact-finding mission trip to the sites of incident, interviews of victims, families, local residents, Church leaders, neighbor hoods, journalist, police officials, local authorities, political workers and different stake holders.

HRFP team reported that the Christians population of 20,000 has affected in Jaranwala, living in most affected areas, Christian Colony (Cinema Chowk), Eisa Nagri , Chak 127GB, Chak 126 GB, Nasrali , Sheruana, Farooqabad , Chak 240 GB, Maharanwala,  Chak 238 GB and Mohallah Camp.

From 21 Churches of different denominations; 19 Churches has been burnt fully while the 2 Churches and some prayer rooms/community halls also affected, HRFP Report said.    

HRFP Report revealed that 89 Christians houses have been burnt including the Pastors/Priests houses while the 15 has partially damaged with the more than 400 houses affected in totals.

HRFP Report said further, the horrible attacks made 10000 Christians moved; many of them hid in the sugar cane and other fields, during the first nights of attack.

HRFP team met in person with more than 150 victims & families and Church leaders who shared their stories about victimizations & religious persecutions, losses & immediate needs to help them for urgent and longer, HRFP Report stated.  

HRFP fact finding team observed that the Jaranwala Christians household items were looted, and the rests were burnt. The casualties didn't happen because of Christians fleeing on time. Most of them are in traumatic conditions, few injured and women abused have reported. Most of them were afraid that they did not want to return to their homes ever.

HRFP Fact Finding team said that in Jaranwala, a Christian Assistant Commissioner Shaukat Masih was facing biased behaviors. The accused Raja Amir and Rocky Masih were considering close to Shaukat Masih.

Shaukat Masih has been suspended from his job after the issue. He fled with family before the attack on his house, HRFP added.

The tensions started when the local Muslims alleged two Christian men Raja Amir and Rocky Masih that they have written against Holy Quran and Prophet Muhammad and threw paper with their names and pictures.

FIR was registered on 16th August morning under section 295B and 295C of PPC against two Christian men. FIR stated that the two Christians living in Jaranwala has blasphemed against Holy Quran and Muhammad Mustafa (PBUH) by using insulting words against Islam and Prophet Muhammad.

FIR has registered by police ASI on the complain of Muhammad Afzal, Noor Hussain and Muhammad Toheed, supported by religious groups and the people who have been biased with Shaukat Masih as well. Both Christian accused are on judicial remand and have appeared to court hearing through video link due to high security reasons, HRFP stated.

Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP) learnt from survivors that different Islamic Religious groups, local clerics and religious fundamentalists supported and facilitated the attackers. A local Mosque’s cleric announcements of “better to die if you don't care about Islam”, made role like adding fuel on fire to provoke people for attacking. The police came first but after seeing the mob, gave a free hand to attackers and it has never been reported or noticed when the police resisted the attackers, HRFP added.

Naveed Walter President of Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP) said in blasphemy cases against minorities, it has never been proved if someone ever truly committed blasphemy. But never the accusers have been brought to justice. Same situation was seen in Sawan Masih case of Joseph Colony, who spent 7 years in jail while the accuser never has been asked on that levels that why he accused falsely. In Rimsha case even the religious cleric Hafiz Muhammad Khalid was proved guilty that he did trapped Rimsha in blasphemy case, but the court gave him relief. Asia Bibi was convicted of blasphemy in 2010 and was released in 2018 after Supreme Court decision proving her an innocent but her accusers has never been questioned on those levels.

Naveed Walter said, until the serious actions of state and establishing a strategy & strict policy against such mobs attacks, the same incidents would be repeated as like in 2021 a Srilankan Manager burnt alive. In 2014 Kot Radha Kishan Kasur a couple was burnt alive. In 2013 Joseph Colony Lahore attack burnt houses and Churches. In 2010 attack on Warispura Faisalabad left houses, Church and shops destroyed. In 2009 Gojra and Korian attack destroyed and burnt houses and Churches including 7 people burnt alive. In 2005 the Christians of Sangla Hill were attacked leaving Christian families devastated. In 1997 Shantinagar village was attacked, houses and Churches were burnt to ashes and now a Jaranwala incident, he added. 

The accusers should be hold accountable and questioned from beginning. If they couldn’t prove their allegations against accused then they should be brought to justice, Naveed Walter added.

Naveed Walter President of HRFP said, there is a huge difference between accusing any minority by Muslim and accusing Muslim by Muslims for blasphemy. When an individual member of the minority is being accused then the whole community has to suffer while in a Muslim’s accusation only the individual gets hurt. We condemn however the blasphemy accusation at any person belonging to any religion or faith and there should not be a space for any type of justification, he added.

Naveed Walter said the repeal of blasphemy laws and changing the mind sets of Islamists and general public could be a mile stone, if they are serious and sincere with making Pakistan a true democratic and progressive country. Otherwise, the same incidents would continue, and only the condemnations would be continuing, he added. Even a longer time could not fulfill the trauma of victims, women and children particular that fled in fear and spent nights with no roof over their heads, he added.

Naveed Walter said that the police and courts culture are discouraging for religion based cases, like blasphemy and abductions, forced conversions and forced marriages of minority girls. Such discriminatory laws & practices and violence are one of the main reasons, when minorities internally or externally relocates who got a chance in such situations. He said the 23% minorities has reached to 5% while the above 90 extra judicial killing has been noticed in blasphemy cases only, Naveed Walter added.

 

HRFP shared the email address for any contact and inquiries on the issue: hrfp94@gmail.com

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"Trial of Pakistani Christian Nation" By Nazir S Bhatti

On demand of our readers, I have decided to release E-Book version of "Trial of Pakistani Christian Nation" on website of PCP which can also be viewed on website of Pakistan Christian Congress www.pakistanchristiancongress.org . You can read chapter wise by clicking tab on left handside of PDF format of E-Book.

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