Date: November 24, 2021
The Sargodha Commissioner’s office has already investigated and found two of the three SMC supervisors and the staff of Punjab Emergency Service (PES) guilty of criminal negligence. (It found the third had only come to meet the other two and had had no part in the ensuing events).
But the criminal case was only filed against the SMC supervisors. If charges were to be pursued against the PES too, the compensation amount would at least double.
World Watch Monitor contacted SMC Chief Officer Gara for his version of events: “Michael was wearing a gas mask but he removed it after entering the manhole. We heard the ladder was broken but we have inspected it and it is not damaged.” He was, however, unable to explain why Nadeem and Faisal were sent down if Michael was already unconscious.
Gara said the Punjab Rescue Service had recently trained the sewage workers. However, defending the inaction of the rescue staff, he said, “The Punjab Emergency Service is not specialized in rescuing workers from a manhole.”
Mariam was angry that “The police did not arrest the suspects; they still perform their duties, despite the SMC officially suspending them. Seeing the culprits roam freely makes us feel how powerless and worthless we are.”
But the Satellite Police Investigation Officer Muhammad Musadiq denied this “The suspects obtained pre-arrest bails and have joined the investigation, so there’s no legal justification to arrest them.” He, however, could not report if any developments had taken place.
Sargodha Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Asghar Joya said the inquiry report had been forwarded to Commissioner Masood. “I know the report found the two SMC supervisors and PES rescue staff guilty of negligence, but I do not know if any action was taken,” Joya told World Watch Monitor.
Joya also pointed out that, since October 17, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had restored a local government system so the Commissioners had not much role to play anymore. “Now, I am much less relevant and the mayor holds power.”
On November 1, Mayor Malik Aslam Naveed visited Mariam and Anam to give them 50,000 rupees (c. USD 300) each. “I believe a sanitation worker is worth more respect than us. I will help the families get justice,” he told World Watch Monitor. “I will further ensure to provide maximum support within my capacity.”
*Many of the Pakistani Christian community share ‘Masih’, from Messiah.