THE state had pledged to stand by the Christian community in the aftermath of the August 2023 Jaranwala rampage. However, this commitment seems to be faltering, as a petition filed with the Supreme Court says that the affected citizens are being ignored by the officials concerned. Filed by a minority rights activist, the plea says that the number of damaged houses on the official list is far less than the actual figure, adding that many families have yet to receive compensation. The petition also says that the reconstruction of damaged churches has been abandoned prematurely. The appeal raises issues about the lackadaisical attitude of the police and investigators. It says there are “flaws” in the police investigation of the mob attack on the Christian settlement, and that law enforcers have yet to make progress in recovering the victims’ belongings. A similar plea was filed with the court last December.
The Jaranwala affair — fuelled by spurious allegations of blasphemy against minority citizens — is a blot on the national conscience. While officials were quick to show their solidarity with the affected community in the aftermath of the violence, now that the incident has receded from the headlines, the state seems far less concerned. The administration must look into the complaints of the affected citizens regarding compensation and resolve these without lengthy bureaucratic delays. Similarly, the police need to cooperate with the victims so that their property is retrieved. As for the investigation, unless all the culprits responsible for this outrage are brought to justice, other such incidents of communal violence are bound to erupt sooner or later. The state must show through its words and deeds that it cares about minority citizens. It must redress their grievances. And as requested by the petitioner, the apex court should consider hearing the plea at an early date to ensure the administration is following the court’s directives.
Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2024