Cruel Reality Behind The Tragic Badami Bagh Incident

Joseph Colony tragedy

All over Pakistan, everyone seems to be talking about the very recent inimical inhuman violence incident taking place in Lahore amid allegations of yet another blasphemy attempt. The accused, Sawan Masih is already in police custody but things have not gone back to normal yet.

Following is the ‘Initial Report’ on the tragic Joseph Colony Massacre, Badami Bagh, Lahore which will not only bring to light the cruel reality and facts behind the incident but the same will leave the readers absolutely stunned and speechless.

Basic Information:

On March 08, 2013 at around 06:00 hours (PST), the shocking reports about an unpleasant alleged incident of blasphemy started surfacing, occuring in Christian vicinity of Joseph Colony, near General Bus Stand, North of Lahore-Punjab, Pakistan. It was also reported that Blasphemy case FIR offence under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) was registered against a Christian. Keeping in view the sensitivity of the blasphemy incident the British Pakistani Christian Association sent its representative Shamim to Lahore for fact-finding, so he went there immediately, visited the place of occurrence and noted down the following facts:

Background of alleged accused of Blasphemy:

The alleged accused was identified as Sawan Masih (son of Chaman Masih), used to call Boodi, aged 35 and resident of Joseph Colony, Noor Road, Badami Bagh, Lahore. He is a Sweeper (sanitary worker) by profession and is father of three children. Before the alleged incident of blasphemy he was residing with his parents in joint family system. His house’s located at the front row of the vicinity of Joseph Colony and he is habitual drinker.

Sawan and the complainant Shahid Imran (barber by profession) were cordial with each other and their friendship was known to everyone in the locality. They were good friends for last 8 years and both used to drink together.

Background of blasphemy incident:

On March 05, 2013 (Tuesday) at around 07:00 PM both Sawan Masih and Shahid Imran were drinking when all of sudden; a scuffle took place between the two and they started quarreling on the trivial matter. When the neighboring Christiana noticed their brawl and exchange of abusive language, they intervened and for the time being the uncertain quarrel was arbitrated by the fellow residents. Shahid Imran however, developed grudge in his heart and got annoyed from Sawan Masih. The complainant Shahid Imran also felt ashamed that how as a Christian, Sawan had insulted him and he thus threatened Sawan for dire consequences.

The complainant Shahid Imran went to teach him a lesson to Sawan Masih and in this connection he cunningly made a plan with Shafiq Ahmed and together; they implicated Sawan Masih in the false case of blasphemy. Later Shafiq Ahmed and Shahid Imran informed the cleric of the area mosque Qari Saifullaha about the false & forged incident of blasphemy.

The first attack:

On March 08, 2013 (Friday) around 04:00 PM the cleric made announcements through the loudspeakers of the mosque, alleging accused Sawan Masih of having committed blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad.  Following the broadcast, thousands of Muslims residents gathered and marched towards Joseph Colony chanting slogans and started throwing stones at the houses of Christians. Thousands of protestors demanded immediate arrest of Sawan Masih and also attacked on the houses of Christians. The angry protesters also started looting and crushing the households of Christians. In the meanwhile the police reached at the spot and the protester escaped from the place of occurrence.

The attack resulted in huge losses including breakdown of snooker table into burning and crushing of households etc. Secondly, the police warned the Christians to vacate their houses immediately (a ‘Clear Indication’ that administration was aware of it). The innocent Christians including women and Children immediately evacuated their houses wearing single cloths, leavening their houses & possessions behind. The Christians were even beaten up badly while the vehicle of a local bishop Akram Gill was also damaged inhumanly.

Registration of Blasphemy case FIR:

Later, the complainant filed an application and a blasphemy case FIR No. 112/13 offence 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) was registered against Sawan Masih at the Police Station, Badami Bagh, Lahore. Shamim further found out that the alleged accused of blasphemy Sawan Masih was hiding himself from the violent attack whereas the police arrested his father Chaman Masih, who was badly beaten by the police. Chaman however completely denied the allegations was and later released. Finally, the accused, Sawan Masih, was handed over to the police.

The second attack:

On March 09, 2013 somewhere around 09:30, a mob consisting of almost 4,000 religious zealots gathered around Joseph Colony, led by Shafiq Ahmed, who was in search of the accused Sawan Masih. Although a heavy contingent of police was deployed near the colony yet the mob entered the colony in the presence of the police; they started looting and above 200 houses were set on fires, two churches along with a chapel vandalized and approximately around 500 Holy Bibles were burnt. The furniture and other belongings of the school were also burnt to ashes. Several Christian houses, eight shops, countless motorcycles, auto rickshaws, electricity and gas meters were also burned. As result of heavy arsons, the iron rods used in the roofs melted down while other households such as furniture, trunks, crockery and many more were completely burnt too.

The episode of unspeakable violence in the name of religion began at 09:30 in the morning and did not conclude till noon. Interesting point was that the large numbers of police were present on the spot but they did not avert the angry protesters from further damage thus they executed this exercise for five hours, without any fears whatsoever. The police, at any stage, did not intervene nor did they stop the violent mob. Some Christian youth remained unharmed as they fled away from the scene well in time.

It is evident from the circumstances that police did not inform the angry Muslim about both; the registration of FIR in the blasphemy case against Sawan Masih and the arrest of the accused. Instead, they conveyed to the Christian leadership that they’ll not be able to rescue their families until Sawan gets arrested. As result, the protesters continued to claim that they would not let the Christian families return until Sawan’s arrest.

The fact-finding activity was headed by Shamim Masih along with Mr. Sardar Mushtaq Gill (Social Mobilizer), Mr. Yasoob Bhatti and a social rights activist.

Actions Required On Priority Basis:

At present, the victims immediately need shelter, food, clothing, crockery, beddings, clean water, tea, biscuits and medicines etc.

The Christians in Pakistan staged peaceful protest demonstration throughout Pakistan and at some places the police unjustly stopped the protesters, resulting in severe clashes among police and the Christian protesters.

The initial report is being shared with our readers to highlight the significant section of the incident with a promise that within few days; we’ll be sharing the complete report too.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Lahore Times.

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