ISLAMABAD - President Asif Ali Zardari has directed Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti to immediately proceed to Tehsil Gojras village Adda Korian that had suffered violence against minorities in the last three days and stay there till situation returned to normalcy and the affected people come back to their homes safely.
According to spokesman to President Farhatullah Babar, President took serious notice of the incident and was concerned about the wrong done to the victims of violence as well as the wrong signals it sent about the image of Pakistan and society to the international community.
The fact that in another similar incident, recently, houses belonging to a minority community in Kasur were also set on fire has added to the urgency to tackle the situation with sagacity and firmness, the spokesman quoted the President as saying.
According to Babar, the President said that nobody under any circumstances could be allowed to take law into hands to settle real or perceived grievances. It was the responsibility of the state to protect citizens under attack from a handful of vengeful and armed groups in the name of religion.
President Zardari also appealed to all sections of society to make concerted and combined efforts to repair the social fabric that has often been shredded by individuals and organised groups behind the fatade of religious sensitivities.
The President observed that Rangers had already been deployed in the affected areas. He also asked the Minorities Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti to visit the bereaved families and offer condolences and sympathies on his behalf, Farhatullah Babar further said.
He said that the provincial government had already taken some measures and advised the minister to coordinate with the provincial governments efforts to restore normalcy there.
The President also welcomed that a judicial probe had already been ordered into the incident. A judicial probe is important to give some comfort to the victims that the state is not biased.
Farhatullah Babar quoted the President as saying, It is against the spirit of religion and the norms of a civilized society to vandalize vulnerable members of the society for real or imagined crimes. The President said that in the light of the inquiry ordered and investigations made the culprits be brought to justice in accordance with the law. The President also advised payment of compensation to the affected people. Shahbaz Bhatti left for Gojra soon after the Presidential directive, Farhatullah Babar said.
AFP/APP/PPI add: Paramilitary soldiers were Sunday patrolling Gojra town after deadly violence between Muslims and Christians, officials said.
An angry mob attacked a residential area of Christian community on Saturday, torching 40 houses and a church in Gojra District. The violence broke out over the alleged desecration of Holy Quran.
A total of seven Christians were killed and 14 injured, local administration chief Tahir Hussain told reporters.
Authorities deployed paramilitary rangers in the area and arrested 12 suspects, he said, adding that three were from a banned sectarian group.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, who visited the violence-hit town Sunday, promised to pay compensation to the affected families. We have identified those who attacked, they are terrorists, these people want to destabilise our country, he told reporters.
We will give compensation to the victims, we will pay them for all the losses they suffered, Sanaullah said.
Earlier, more than 1,000 Christians staged demonstrations in Gojra and demanded the arrest of those involved in the attack. People were very angry, they have said they will not bury their dead until the government assured the attackers would be arrested, Father Shabbir Masih said.
Monitoring Desk adds: A case has been registered against 17 known and 783 unknown people on charges including those of killing, attempt to kill and terrorism following violent incidents in Gojra, reported a private TV channel.
The case was registered on the request of Church Bishop while the families of the victims staged protest against the killings by laying bodies of their loved ones on railway tracks. They demanded immediate arrest of the people responsible for the violence.
Rangers, who took control of the city, have started patrolling Gojra. Spokesman of the Rangers said that the situation is now totally under control.
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif announced Rs500,000 for each bereaved family and directed the Commissioner and RPO to stay in the area till normalcy is restored in Gojra.
Rana Sanaullah said that police, launching a crackdown on miscreants, have arrested over 100 people. Police said Abdul Khalid, member of a banned organiaation, is among the arrested.
Meanwhile, the deceased of Saturday riots were buried Sunday evening after the government assured protestors of stern action against rioters and handed them a copy of FIR registered against 800 rioters.
Tense calm prevailed in riots-hit Gojra on Sunday as Rangers began patrolling in the disturbed town. The whole town remained closed, while hundreds held a protest rally against the Saturday killings. Police lodged case against some 800 rioters and arrested about 200 suspects Christian community, who had blocked the railway traffic by placing bodies on the tracks, after negotiations with the administration agreed to take the bodies of seven victims, who had been reportedly burnt alive.