Christianity News Daily

Christians Seek Justice Following Attacks in Jaranwala, Pakistan

The advocacy group files a plea with the Supreme Court.

Implementation of Minority Rights Forum (IMRF) Chairman Samuel Makson applied with a request for a hearing as early as possible on redress for the attack on Christians’ homes and shops on Aug. 16 in Jaranwala, Faisalabad District, Punjab Province.

On December 8, Makson submitted a similar petition to the Supreme Court asking for an expedited hearing of the suo motu notice the court had issued in response to the attacks on Christian properties in Jaranwala.

Makson’s latest petition states that soon after the incident, both the caretaker chief minister of Punjab and the caretaker prime minister had separately visited Jaranwala and pledged compensation of 2 million rupees (USD 7,145) to each victim’s family. The two officials also promised restoration of the damaged church buildings within three days, it added.

The latest petition notes that the government’s assessment of Christians’ losses was flawed, stating that 146 houses were damaged while the government report cited only 80 affected homes.

“Of these 80 households, the government has compensated 76 families, while the remaining four haven’t received the promised amount,” the petition states.

It adds that despite repeated efforts by Christian groups to rectify the assessment, officials remain indifferent.

“Another matter of grave concern was the abrupt halt of reconstruction activities at various churches, with a noticeable lack of responsiveness from the government authorities,” the petition states. “This cessation has left affected churches incomplete and vulnerable, demanding immediate attention and action.”

Makson’s petition also questions the bail granted to most of the suspects.

“The arrest of 283 individuals in connection with the incident raises concerns about the investigative process, but shockingly about 223 accused have been granted bail, and 14 discharged, underscoring potential flaws in the police investigation and highlighting the urgency for a thorough review,” it states.

The petition points out that despite proper identification by Christian complainants, police failed to recover the items used for the destruction of church buildings from the arrested suspects.

“Additionally, the existence of videos collected from different sources has not resulted in action against the perpetrators, further underscoring the need for a robust and just response,” it states.

The petition notes that 25 Christians filed 25 First Information Reports (FIRs) regarding theft of their belongings. The police’s lackluster response and absence of investigations or a Joint Investigation Team (JIT), however, have left victims in despair, it adds.

The application mentioned the Sept. 8 hearing of the case in which the Supreme Court planned to re-list the case after two weeks. Thus far, however, no date for the case hearing has been set.

“Hence, keeping in view the agony of the affecters and the sensitivity of the matter, the present case needs to be fixed early,” the petitioner stresses.

At the last hearing, the Supreme Court ordered the Advocate General Punjab to file a report about the absence of a security plan, which the provincial government was to develop to ensure the protection of the Christian community and safeguard churches and residences. The particular plan had envisaged establishing a quick response unit to prevent any violent attack on the Christian community.

Little Hope for Justice

Police harassment of complainants and witnesses, officers deliberately arresting innocent bystanders instead of known assailants, and Christian leaders’ failure to ensure proper investigation and legal cases were responsible for most suspects walking free on bail, according to Shakeel Bhatti, a former councilor in Jaranwala.

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