CLAAS committed to provide free legal aid and support to the victims of Youhanabad
It is now more than a month since the tragedy of Youhanabad, but the situation is still far from normal. There are still many people who are afraid of returning to their homes as police continue to arrest Christians on mere suspicion and without any evidence.
Nearly seventy families have contacted CLAAS for help, and to find out about their loved ones who are still missing after the attacks. People are worried as there are rumours that those arrested by the police are being tortured. According to some reports, the police have arrested more than 100 Christians, not only from Youhanabad, but from nearby Christian towns too, and according to some report, the police still have a list of 100 Christians to arrest for alleged involvement in the lynching of two Muslims.
Keeping in view this situation and Christians’ apprehensions, CLAAS has submitted a writ petition to Lahore High Court against the police and Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif. In the petition CLAAS has provided a list of people who are missing and have requested a record of all the Christians who have been taken into police custody in connection with Youhanabad, so CLAAS can start legal proceedings and apply for their bail and those who are found innocent can be freed.
Since CLAAS submitted the petition, the police has freed dozens of Christians who were mistreated and even tortured. They are in such a state of paranoia that until now they have not been in a position to record their statements regarding the abuse they suffered at the hands of the police.
According to Joseph Francis, Director CLAAS-PK, the police inspector of Nishter Colony police station told the court they don’t have any Christians in their police station as they have not arrested anyone from Youhanabad. This is despite Youhanabad being in Nishter Colony police station’s jurisdiction. Such an attitude of the police has further enhanced the apprehensions of the Christian community. According to reports, 29 Christians have been transferred to jail. CLAAS is preparing to apply for their bail. CLAAS is worried about the rest of the Christians who are still missing, and neither the police nor their families know their whereabouts.
This is a challenging time but CLAAS is standing with its people in this difficult time, it is CLAAS’s priority to provide free legal aid and release those who are innocent and are charged wrongly.