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INTERNATIONAL

 

Christians Help Displaced Families in Rimsha Case
 

Witnesses against an Imam charged with planting evidence have changed their evidence


By Shamim Masih
 

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN -- Rimsha Masih, is a 14-year-old Pakistani Christian girl arrested in a poor suburb in Islamabad on August 16 after a Muslim Imam accused her of burning papers containing verses from the Quran, in breach of Pakistan's strict blasphemy laws.

 

Rimsha Masih -- what will happen now in her case

After a period in remand, the court on September 7, granted bail to Rimsha against two surety bonds of Pakistani Rs500, 000 each. She was then flown by a helicopter to an undisclosed location after her release from jail.

 

Since the day she was arrested, Christian families had to flee for their lives from that locality. Many of had been beaten by a mob on the day this incident happened, and these extremists also threatened them saying they planned to set their homes on fire.

 

So after all of this, they ran for their lives on the same midnight leaving their houses opened. Many of families tried to settle down in the forest in sector G-9/4, but due to the clutch of local residents and interference of local police, they couldn't.

 

However, the Chairman the Capital Development Authority (CDA) allowed them to live there for few months after their protest, even then local residents seized that piece of land.

 

After the release on bail of Rimsha, displaced families are trying to settle down now in a town called in Meharbadi, although there is apprehension there. During their displacement, some of them claimed that they lost their jobs and their household items were stolen.

 

During the three weeks of Rimsha's in jail, these families kept moving from place to place due to their fear. Since the rehabilitation process started, these families were neglected by the local government and NGO's mostly. But there is one organization seen that has been taking care of these displaced families.

 

 

A displaced family receiving aid

According to Farrukh H. Saif, from World Vision in Progress (WVIP), since the day they moved from the vicinity WVIP had been providing them with food on a regular basis. After the release of Rimsha, WVIP helped these families by paying them rents on monthly basis. Since then 75 families were being accommodated.

 

On October 2, Farrukh H. Saif came from Lahore to pay their monthly rent as per his promise. On the day, 25 families were being paid monthly rent as their compensation and WVIP promised to pay to more families in the coming week.

 

Earlier the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) supplied them with food stuff on a weekly basis through its local representative. BPCA has reached to 38 families and willing to supply food stuff to the displaced families up till their rehabilitation.

 

The case against Rimsha has now been complicated by the fact that three witnesses who had earlier testified against prayer leader Khalid Jadoon Chishti in the blasphemy case against Rimsha Masih withdrew their statements on Monday, insisting that the police had "coerced" them into doing so.

 

Earlier the three "witnesses" had claimed that they saw the cleric tearing some pages of the Quran and placing them in a plastic bag. The eyewitnesses had claimed that Chishti added those torn pages to the ashes seized from 14-year-old Rimsha to implicate her.

 

So now, those of us here in Pakistan are waiting to see what will happen in this strange and controversial case.

 

 

Provided by our friends at Assist News Service

 

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