All 70 people accused of anti-Christian violence two years ago in Gojra have been acquitted.
The Anti-Terrorism Court in
Faisalabad yesterday acquitted all the Muslims said to be responsible for attacking Christians in Gojra and a nearby village that left 10 Catholics dead. The Muslims were among a mob of more than 800 people who raided the Christian colony in Gojra on Aug. 1 2009 after setting fire to Korian village on July 30.
Ten Christians were killed, seven of them burned alive, while four Churches were destroyed in the carnage following a blasphemy allegation. Some Christians were also imprisoned for attacking “the other group” and released after a few months.
The acquittal was ordered after the continued absence of Catholic witnesses in trials as well as due to a lack of evidence. Among the 70 people named by the complainant, 68 had already been granted bail before arrest while the remaining two were released on bail on June 7.
Father Yaqub Yousaf, parish priest of the Sacred Heart Church in Gojra, is presently holding meetings with the leaders of both communities for a peace accord.
“It is apparent that justice was denied. The Church was vigilant in pursuing the case but Christians were afraid to follow up. A whole family shifted to Sri Lanka while a few left the city for good,” said Father Yousaf.
The priest also complained that reconstruction work, as promised by government, was left unfinished. “Eight houses in Korian village remain in ruins while a few houses in Gojra city are still incomplete,” he said.
Newly painted cement houses now stand side by side with old mud houses in Korian, which bore the brunt of the tragedy. Villagers are now residing in the offices of construction companies that left last year before commencing the second phase of the project.
The drawing room of Nawab Bibi, a local villager, is still covered in ash. “They took away everything but we are happy to have our lives spared,” she said.
Catholics remember Gojra violence