PESHAWAR: Relatives of the Kohati Church suicide attack victims held a protest demonstration against the government for its failure to give them compensation.
Dozens of protesters gathered outside the Peshawar press club and chanted slogans in favour of their demands. They said over 120 people lost their lives while over 170 sustained wounds in the blast in September 2013, adding every single person was promised compensation by the government.
“Even after three years, the government and all those who promised extending support to the blast victims, have yet to fulfil their promises,” they said, adding some injured persons were still carrying pallets in their legs and arms.
“Yes, the government and other organisations extended support and provided possible medical assistance to the victims’ families as well as those who sustained injuries, but it seemed those were just promises,” Priest Amir Williams said. He stated that the families had been demanding assistance in a peaceful way and they [being so much vulnerable] could not agitate by blocking roads since it would create problems for others. However, he vowed to continue holding peaceful protest demonstrations in favour of their demands.
Williams stated that both the federal and provincial governments collectively announced a sum of Rs200 million for the blast victims. However, he expressed his disappointment that not a single penny has been released for the families, adding many government employees, entitled for the Shuhada package, were also running from pillar to post.
“We [Christians, a minority] are being deprived of our right. Neither will we disturb anyone, nor do we plan to block roads. However, we will [since this is our birth right] continue protest in favour of our demands,” Williams told The Express Tribune.
Musarrat, 45, who still carries pallets in her legs, stated that if the government was reluctant to compensate Christians, they should at least offer jobs to their kids since many youth lost their lives and they could not feed their children.
On September 22, 2013, a twin suicide bombing killed at least 78 people at All Saints Church located in the Kohati area of the provincial capital. The two attackers struck at the end of a service at the Church.
On September 16, 2015, All Saints Church blast victims alleged that the Bishop of Peshawar was responsible for not releasing enough money to compensate the victims of blasts. The allegations were however rejected by the representatives of the Diocese of Peshawar (DoP), Church of Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2016.