Another day, another bout of madness in Pakistan. On Saturday, a mob torched Christian houses in Joseph Colony in the Badami Bagh area of Lahore, after allegations of ‘blasphemy’ against one of its residents. This was clearly no spontaneous ‘riot’ but a well-planned and orchestrated move. Because of the warnings received ahead of time, the residents were evacuated so that there was no loss of life (though the alleged blasphemer’s 65-year old father was beaten up). Small mercies.
Locals say that the land mafia was behind this attack. No surprise. Malafide motives (property, debt, rivalry etc) have been behind all accusations of ‘blasphemy’ investigated so far.
The mob was given a free hand to burn and loot; it destroyed more than 150 houses and shops, as well as a church, including bibles and religious symbols (blasphemy case against perpetrators, anyone?). This is not the first time this has happened. Remember Shantinagar (1997), and Gojra and Kerian (2009).
There has been widespread condemnation of this barbarism, including from all the ‘religious’ leaders. Various protest demonstrations in solidarity with the Christian community are planned across Pakistan on Sunday. In Karachi at 2 pm at the Press Club; Lahore – 4 pm at CharingCross; Islamabad – 2 pm at the Press Club, followed by a peace march organised by the Pakistan Youth Alliance at 3.30 pm.
The Punjab government has announced Rs 200,000 compensation to each affected family and promised to rehabilitate them on a ‘war footing’. The police have apprehended some 42 alleged perpetrators and are looking for five more. The question is, were the perpetrators of Shantinagar, Gojra and Kerian ever brought to justice, and did the affected people ever receive full compensation? And how/why was the mob allowed to carry out this outrage in the first place, given that it was clearly expected? Just asking.