Gojra riots anniversary: HRCP sees ‘uncertain peaceÂ’
LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said on Friday peace prevailed in Gojra ahead of the anniversary of last year’s grisly attacks on Christians, attributing it to the presence of a strong police contingent there.
It emphasised the need to find ways to forge interfaith harmony on a sincere and durable basis.
These observations were made in the report of an HRCP fact-finding mission to Gojra entitled “An Uncertain Peace”.
The HRCP team visited Gojra last week and met the affected families, journalists, religious leaders and members of the local administration to determine the status and adequacy of compensation for the affected families, the status of prosecution of the accused and the state of inter-communal relations in the area a year after the attacks on Christians.
The team found that most of the torched houses and a destroyed church had been reconstructed by the provincial government and the standard of construction appeared to be satisfactory.
However, the partially destroyed houses had not been rebuilt, only one third of the compensation promised to the residents of the completely destroyed houses had been given and no timeframe given for the payment of the balance. Although the police had submitted challan for the trial, yet there was no indication of when the proceedings would begin.
The team noted that local Christians felt that they were being pressurised to reach a compromise and withdraw the case against the accused. It said that witnesses in the case were under great pressure and might not appear in court if the trial was delayed further, or if their security was not guaranteed. Christians of the area apprehended that conviction of the accused might lead to a backlash against the local Christian population.
The team learnt about efforts by Muslim and Christian communities and the local administration to promote peace and harmony as well as attempts by extremist elements to inflame emotions.
“Peace in Gojra is largely due to the presence of a strong police contingent and the obvious realisation by the Muslim community that disruption of order in the present situation will have a bad effect on the fate of those facing trial. Neither of these factors is permanent. Ways will have to be found to secure the parties’ sincere conversion to interfaith harmony,” the team’s report concluded.