Punjab government’s spokesman Senator Pervaiz Rashid has said 150 people suspected of a role in the Badami Bagh riots and arson had been arrested. He said at least 54 of these could be prosecuted for offences under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
Speaking at a press conference in Lahore on Wednesday, Rashid said 80 of the 83 people nominated in the case had been arrested. He said the police had been told to arrest remaining within a day.
The senator said the anti-terrorist court had been requested to hear the cases daily.
He said the government had distributed cheques for Rs500,000 each among 255 affected families.
Rashid said the government had already requested the Lahore High Court to constitute a commission for judicial investigation of the incident.
He said the police officials suspected of negligence had been suspended from their duties so that the investigation should not be influenced.
He said the government had set up tents to accommodate the affected families while the damaged houses were being repaired or re-built. He said three meals a day were being served in a ‘village of 200 tents.’ He said two medical camps and an ambulance had been provided.
Rashid said that following a special directive by the chief minister, work on the construction of houses had begun on March 10. He said 20 contractors had been engaged to ensure early completion.
He said work on water and electricity supply, drains and the pavement was underway and restoration was being done on war footing. He said a Bank of Punjab counter had been opened at the colony. He said restoration work on the two affected churches was on.
Rashid said the victims were being issued national identity cards and a police post had been established to protect them.
The senator said the victims had not been advised to vacate their homes nor had they been made any offers for the property prior to or after the incident. He said if any one had information in this regard, they should share it with the Supreme Court which had taken suo motu notice of the issue.
He said the ulema from all schools of thought had expressed solidarity with the Christian brethren. He praised the role of media saying that objective, positive reporting had discouraged violent protests.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2013.
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