A group of men opened indiscriminate fire in a Christian neighbourhood in Lahore’s Sherakot area on Sept 6, resulting in serious bullet injuries to at least three women and a man, sources said.
Asif Masih, a resident of Shamsabad locality, told Kross Konnection that he had returned home from work on Monday afternoon when suddenly the entire neighbourhood echoed with gunfire.
“I rushed outside to bring my children, who were playing in the street, inside the house when I saw Dilshad Dogar, Butt Gas Wala, Chand Khencha and some other locals firing indiscriminately with automatic weapons, including AK-47s, at the homes of Christians and a church located in the street,” he said. He added that over 300 Christian families lived in the locality.
According to Masih, he received bullet injuries in both thighs while the firing injured Nirma Bibi, Maria Kashif, Samina and some other Christians who were inside their homes. One of the injured women was 6 months pregnant and was fortunate that the bullet had hit her in the leg and not in the upper part of her body.
Masih said the accused were influential people due to which the local police was also siding with them. He claimed that in the application submitted to the police he had stated that the accused had threatened to burn down the Christians’ homes and the church as well as to forcibly evict them from the locality, but the police had ignored these threats in the FIR.
“The accused were openly threatening the Christian residents to leave the area as they riddled our homes with bullets but the police wrote in the FIR that the incident was an outcome of a dispute between a local Christian Asghar Masih and Dilshad Dogar,” he claimed.
Talking to Kross Konnection, Advocate Javed Gill Coya, who is providing assistance to the affected Christians, said the reason of the attack was not clear yet.
“But even if the police is claiming that it was a dispute between two people how can anyone justify the targeting of the entire neighbourhood with automatic weapons?
“Over 100 bullets were fired from various prohibited weapons and several persons were injured but the police did not add Section 7 of the ATA in the FIR, which would have made the attack a non-bailable offence,” he said.
Commenting on the victims’ claim that the police was protecting the accused, Advocate Gill said that the incident occurred at 2.30pm but the police reached the locality around 8pm even though the residents had made frantic calls to the police helpline when the attack was taking place.
“The police has so far been unable to explain why they did not intervene when the attackers were going about shooting innocent people. Exclusion of the anti-terrorism section from the FIR also points to connivance with the accused,” he added.
The lawyer said that police had arrested three accused while raids were being made to arrest the others. “Although the police is claiming that it will bring the accused to justice, the loopholes in the FIR are likely to benefit the assailants in getting bails,” he added.
Meanwhile, a large number of Christians have condemned the attack on the poor locals and demanded justice from the government.
A demonstration was also held outside the Services Hospital in Lahore where the injured were taken for medical treatment.
The demonstrators demanded that the accused be tried under the anti-terrorism laws and the Christian residents be provided security so that the accused could not intimidate them for reconciliation.