Punjab govt rejects pleas for judicial inquiry into Jaranwala attacks

    An additional advocate general told the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday that the Punjab caretaker government had no plans to form a judicial commission on the Jaranwala incident in which multiple churches and homes of the Christian community were torched and ransacked.

    Ghulam Sarwar Nahang, the law officer, stated that the government had constituted various joint investigation teams (JITs) to hold an inquiry into the incident. He said the government in the light of reports submitted by the JITs decided not to form a judicial commission.

    The law officer also filed a reply on behalf of the chief secretary to a petition seeking a judicial inquiry into the Jaranwala incident.

    Justice Asim Hafeez was hearing the petition filed by Church of Pakistan’s President Bishop Azad Marshall. The petitioner’s counsel sought time to amend the petition and the judge adjourned the hearing till Oct 11.

    The petitioner had contended that the investigation into the Jaranwala incident by the police was being held in an irresponsible manner. He said the police had been carrying out investigation at a snail’s pace, that was benefiting the perpetrators of violence.

    He asked the court to order the provincial government to hold a judicial inquiry under the supervision of a sitting judge of the high court so that justice could be delivered to the victims.

    On Saturday, caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi had presided over a meeting of the cabinet where the chief secretary submitted the police inquiry report into the Jaranwala incident.

    The cabinet, being satisfied with the police inquiry report, withdrew its decision to form a judicial commission.

    Earlier, the Lahore High Court had instructed the Punjab chief secretary to take a decision in connection with a petition seeking the formation of a judicial commission for an inquiry into the Jaranwala tragedy.

    The direction for the provincial chief secretary came from Justice Sajid Mehmood Sethi when the public prosecutor responded in negative on being questioned if a judicial commission was formed to look into the incident.

    In the plea, the petitioner had requested the high court to issue orders for an inquiry into the Jaranwala tragedy by a judicial commission, contending that the fundamental rights of the minority community (the Christians) had been violated in the incident.

    Commenting on the Punjab government’s decision against the formation of a judicial tribunal, Bishop Marshall told Kross Konnection that the community was appalled by the government’s announcement.

    “This refusal clearly points to the government’s indifference to addressing our legitimate concerns for security and protection of our community,” he said.

    Marshall said that instead of rectifying the root causes fostering such aggression against minority communities, the state was resorting to short-term strategies, was suppressing the victims’ voices, and overlooking the accountability of the culprits behind such acts.

    “I firmly believe that the Jaranwala tragedy will have a lasting effect on millions of Christians and other minority communities, therefore, denying us a judicial commission clearly suggests that we are not equal citizens of Pakistan as was promised by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and guaranteed in the Constitution of Pakistan,” he said.

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