omen were shifted immediately,” recalled Bernard. “When I left, the police had arrived and there were so many attackers that we, with much difficulty, fled. By the next morning, at about 10.30am, we came to know that an attack had been unleashed on the colony.”
Following the attack, the Chief Minister of the Punjab, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, visited Joseph Colony and said that Christians had equal rights and should be protected by the state.
Local church leaders have expressed their disappointment following the court’s decision.
“This is quite upsetting,” Cecil Shane Chaudhry, executive director of the Catholic bishops’ justice and peace commission, told ucanews.com. “Basically, this means that, despite video footage, documents and pictures of thousands rampaging through Christian properties, the court has not found anyone guilty. So mobs are free to do whatever they want.
“Perhaps the police are not properly doing their job and rounding up the right people. Also, there is community-based pressure on the lower courts. If there was no substantial evidence, the court should also accept the bail of Sawan Masih.”
Samson Salamat, chairman of the Rawadari Tehreek (Movement for Tolerance) group, added: “We are worried. Once again history has repeated itself and we are denied justice. None of the culprits in anti-Christian attacks have been apprehended in the past. While this gives a negative message to persecuted religious minorities, it also encourages extremists.
“Perhaps the Church leadership should be more active in pursuing the court proceedings in such cases. Those who are directly affected usually settle their financial losses via back-channel diplomacy, which means there are no witnesses.”