By Xari Jalil
LAHORE, March 9: “Burn us too!” wails a woman, her hands repeatedly hitting her head. “Did they leave us alive to see all this?” Her tears stream down her face and her nose is red and swollen. In one of the doorways, a mother and son stand hugging each other and weeping as if someone has just died. “They took everything from us…” sobs the boy. “Those robbers took everything we had worked hard for.”
Not many of the homes in Joseph Colony are left intact. They are now skeletons, empty shells, housing nothing but ashes.
The Christian families, who had been shifted one night ago for ‘safety’ as the police told them, only came the next day to find out that all of their belongings and all their assets – in fact everything that they owned had been ransacked, robbed, and the rest mercilessly burnt to the ground. All because one man from among them was accused under Section 295-C: an accusation which has not been proved.
While the police remain guarded, only carefully revealing any kind of information to the media, and the Muslim community prefer to remain mute, the Christians are ablaze with fury.
“There are about 250 families in total,” says Aslam Masih. “Each family has faced a loss of about Rs0.8 to Rs0.9 million, and this figure is the lowest I am talking about.”
Mariam Bibi stands in her doorway peering inside. She cannot step inside because the ashes are still white and burning, and acrid, black smoke fumes out angrily.
“We saved every penny to collect for my daughter’s dowry,” she sobs. “In one night they have left us homeless and out on the streets. Where will we sleep now?”