All Saints Church blast: Over two years on, 26 affectees await compensation

Families accuse diocese, bishop of corruption; say there is mismanagement in govt


Saba Rani March 10, 2016
Families accuse diocese, bishop of corruption; say there is mismanagement in govt. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD IQBAL/EXPRESS/FILE

PESHAWAR: Although it has been over two years since the attack on All Saints Church, around 26 people, including those who were injured or related to victims, have yet to receive compensation.

At least 104 people lost their lives and 142 were injured when the church, situated at Kohati Gate, was attacked by two suicide bombers on September 23, 2013. Almost 129 families were affected by the tragedy. Over 14 women lost their husbands and 44 children lost their fathers. Among those who were killed, 29 were students.

Following the attack, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government announced funds worth Rs0.5 million as compensation for the next of kin of those who were killed and Rs0.2 million for families of those who were injured. The Sindh government provided relief cheques for those affected by the attack and promised funds for them. However, families of nine people who died in the attack and 17 people who were injured still await government’s assistance.

Among those who died and whose families did not receive compensation are Arif Aziz, Javed Samuel, Nazir Masih, Rehana Kousar, Riaz Washington, Sabir Masih, Saba Pervez, Tanveer and Waris Masih.

The injured who did not receive compensation are Aman Arif, Anwar Ghulam, Ashkar Gohar, Asiya, Iram Bakhtiar, Mussarat Younas, Natasha, Reema Irshad, Samina Shehzad, Suleman Javed, Sheza, Tony Khadim, Vicky Pervez, Waqas Ghauri, Yaqub Masih, Zulfiqar Patras and Zafar Gul.

Many families lost their sole bread-winners and faced financial constraints. A large number of people who survived were maimed and no longer in a position to work.

Cycle of woes

“My brother died in the attack,” Shamaun, brother of Riaz Washington, told The Express Tribune. “I have tried time and again to get the funds for my nephews as it is their right.” He said, “I submitted several applications to the relevant department, but to no avail. We are all frustrated with the system.”

Zulfiqar Patras, whose wife and daughter were critically injured, said, “The name of our daughter was not included in the list of people who were entitled to compensation.” He added their names were also excluded from the list of people who were promised funds by the Sindh government.

Musarat Younas said, “My leg was operated on twice but I’m still not able to walk properly. I still have shrapnel in my body.”

While he did receive the money promised by the K-P government, he says his name was removed from the list of people who were entitled to receive funds from Sindh government.

Usurping rights

A few Christians have blamed the bishop and the diocese of corruption. Emmanuel, a resident of Peshawar, told The Express Tribune, “The current bishop and the diocese are trying to usurp the rights of the poor. Many of us believe the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government paid the money but our elders didn’t share it with us.”

According to insiders, the names of 20 people, who were neither injured nor related to anyone who lost their lives, were included in the list after names of the affected population were crossed.

The other view

However, Diocese of Peshawar (DOP) Bishop Humphrey Peter Sarfaraz has denied these allegations. He said,“The provincial government did release the compensation money. However, some people took the compensation announced by the Sindh government twice and [others] never told us they have not received the compensation.”

Govt’s response

Special Adviser to the Chief Minister on Minority Affairs Sardar Soran Singh told The Express Tribune he has hospital records of people who were killed or injured by the attack. “All those who were admitted to the hospitals were included in the list. We paid everyone from the official data,” he added. Singh said, “We are the only government that paid the people affected by the blast. All other governments have yet to pay the victims of terrorism.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 11th, 2016.

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