Gojra attacks – A Review

Gojra attacks – A Review

 

GOJRA ATTACKS REVIEW

 

User’s guide

  • The numbers in () are references that can be consulted in the document “Gojra References”
  • The Roman numerals i) ii) etc indicate different version of the same fact.

 

Attacks on Christians

  • In 1997, the twin villages of Shantinagar-Tibba Colony, Multan Division, were looted and burnt by 20,000 Muslim citizens and 500 policemen acting together after an incident of alleged desecration of the Quran was reported. Sipah-e-Sahaba was also blamed by the Christians for that holocaust. (5)
  • In 2005, in the Christian community of Sangla Hill in Nankana district in Punjab: after allegations of desecration of the Quran, a mob of 3,000 led by the local elected politician and police burnt down three churches, a missionary-run school, two hostels and several houses belonging to the Christian community. (5)
  • July 30, 2009 attack in Korian, 5 to 6 km from Gojra town. (3)
  • August 1, attack in Gojra.
  • August 5, 2009, a factory owner and two others were killed along Muridke-Sheikhupura Road attacked by factory workers. One private TV channel said the owner and the other two were killed over the factory administration’s failure to pay workers. Another private channel reported the attack was prompted by an allegation that the factory owner had desecrated the Quran. (5)

 

Chronology of events

  • Around 18th of July, intelligence agencies had formally warned the Government of Punjab of likely incidents of terrorism in which some enclaves of minority Pakistanis could be targeted. Provincial government seems not to have taken this information seriously. (15)
  • July 28, Christian wedding in Korian (village 5-6 km away from Gojra),
    1. The clashes began after reports that a copy of the Quran had been defiled. (7), (16), (20)
    2. The incident started after the misbehaviour of a drunk person (Muslim). He and his friends created a scene and started making allegations while he was escorted out. (14)
    3. Talib Maseeh accused of blasphemy. (3), (4)
    4. Hundreds of Muslim protesters set fire to several Christians’ houses in the first two days, but the violence reached its peak on Saturday August 1. (7)
  • July 31, announcements from mosques in Gojra urged the Muslims to gather and “make mincemeat of the Christians”. Police officials have confirmed hearing the announcements. (2)
  • August 1, 8.30AM, procession held in Gojra demanding death sentence of Talib Maseeh. (3)
  • More than 1000 people attacked the Christian community. (3), (2).

 

 

Who were the attackers?

  • Some of them were masked. (2)
    1. There was an exchange of fire from the members of the two communities. (13)
    2. There was firing into the village; some Christians trying to defend the village fired in the air to scare away the people. (14)
  • Qadeer Awan (who is an office-bearer of the PML-N) sent people to Jhang to import activists, some of them came masked to attack the Christian community. (14)
  • The attack was carried out by people coming from outside the town, a number of the attackers were from the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan. (2), (5), (7)
  • Government had received information that a group of armed ‘miscreants’, with masked faces had come from Jhang and led the violence. (6)

 

Weaponry used. Attack planned?

  • Attackers used chemicals and acids. (1)
  • Attackers went about destroying houses in a very professional manner. They used petrol and other inflammable substances. Over 40 houses torched in less than 30 minutes. (2)
  • Attackers were carrying sophisticated weaponry. (9), (14)
  • A number of bottle bombs, filled with lethal explosive material, were used. (17)

 

Responsibility of the police and government

  • State officials including the DCO and the RPO are accused of not having provided security even after hours of pleading by the Christian community. (1), (9)
  • Local government and police did not have an appropriate reaction to stop the attack. (5), (12), (14), (15)
  • Under pressure from the mob, the police registered a blasphemy case against the three Christians instead of arresting the attackers. (12)
  • DPO suspended the Gojra Sadar station house officer at the demand of the mob. (4)
  • Following escalation of the violence, the Punjab Rangers were sent to Gojra.(5), (9)
  • It took the Government of Punjab three days to take any action, despite the warning from Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti, the Federal Minister of Minorities Affairs. (15)
  • Despite all the checkpoints en route, militants from outside moved around in public transport loaded with weaponry. (15)

 

 

Involvement of PLM-N

  • Local workers of PML-N identified as being associated with the lynching mob. (1)
  • Qadeer Awan reputed to be a very influential PML-N member is the prime suspect in the FIR (First Information Report). (15)
  • Qadeer Awan (who is an official of PML-N) sent people to Jhang to import activists. (14)

 

Injuries

  • Number of people killed:
    1. 7 or 8. (3)
    2. 7. (5)
    3. 6 burnt, 2 shot. (7)
    4. 7 burnt. (9)
    5. 6 burnt. (13)
    6. 6 burnt, 1 shot. (14)
    7. 9, from both sides.(18)
    8. 9. (20)
  • Number of people injured:
    1. 18 or 19. (3)
  • Houses burned:
  1. 45. (20)
  2. 75. (4)
  3. 60. (3)
  • Churches burned:
  1. 2. (4)

 

Involvement of the local Muslim community

  • Some Muslims in the neighbourhood provided shelter to the Christians. (1), (2), (15)

 

Law enforcement, justice

  • Punjab Chief Minister, Shahbaz Sharif, has suspended the persons responsible for letting this incident get out of hand. (5) Toba Tek Singh district coordination officer, district police officer and Gojra deputy superintendent of police have been removed for negligence.(8)
  • Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif announced that the government would follow the findings and recommendations of a judicial inquiry tribunal appointed by the Lahore High Court. (8)
  • Compensations will be given to the families. (5), (8), (10)
  • Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said police have arrested over 100 people, he also said a preliminary investigation showed there was no desecration of the Quran. (10)
  • The FIR was delayed. (14), (15) There are 2 suspected reasons for that: 1) To allow FIR’s to be registered on a blasphemy case. 2) Because of the intense involvement of some PML-N people. (14)
  • The militants were seen taking orders on cell phones and also passing on information. If all calls on cell phones from the area were to be checked during the arson, it would reveal a long trail of connections leading to militant leaders, politicians and handlers residing outside Pakistan. (15)
  • A month ago Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif had presided over a meeting to put out a joint declaration to condemn religious militant extremism. The declaration stated that “ whosoever is even slightly guilty of blasphemy against the Prophet – directly or indirectly – is an infidel, an apostate, and liable to be put to death”. (12)

 

Official visits

  • Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti and Punjab Minorities and Human Rights Minister Kamran Michael visited the locality on Friday ( July 31) and urged both sides to remain peaceful.
  • Chief Minister has repeatedly postponed his visit to the city citing security reasons. (15)
  • Governor Punjab Salman Taseer and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif will visit Gojra today (August 4) (19)

 Also vaiable at Google Docs