Akash Bashir, salesian martyr

Akash Bashir

Pakistan

The heroic guard who on 15 March 2015 prevented a suicide bomber from entering a crowded Catholic Church in Lahore, Pakistan, sacrificed his life to avoid a large scale carnage in the place of worship.

Two suicide bombers exploded themselves near St John’s Catholic Church and the Protestant Christ Church, some 600 metres apart, in Lahore’s predominantly Christian neighbourhood of Youhannabad on Sunday as the faithful were gathered inside.In the attack on the two churches, claimed by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaatul Ahrar (TTP-JA), 17 people died and more than 70 were wounded.

Akash Bashir, the heroic security guard at St John’s Church, was a past pupil of the Don Bosco Technical Centre (DBTC) located in Youhannabad. Akash Bashir was standing together with another security guard at the main gate of the church, checking those who entered. The suicide bomber approached the entrance and tried violently to get past the two young guards. When Akash stopped him he noticed the explosives hidden under his jacket. He grabbed hold of the attacker and the lower part of his body was blown off in the explosion, but saved the lives of many other people. His identity was confirmed on March 17 as details of the story of what happened gradually became clear

The funeral of Akash Bashir and others was held on 17 March. Akash’s father said that his 19-year old son had always aspired to be a great man. “His mother once asked him to stop standing at the church’s gate. He replied that he wanted to make people safer and did not care for his own life,” the elder Bashir said. He said that Akash and his sacrifice should be remembered.

Father Francis Gulzar, the parish priest of St John’s Catholic Church, said the first anniversary of the terrorist attack on two churches in the Youhanabad area of Lahore marked the beginning of a movement to seek sainthood for Bashir. "Akash is our hero; his bravery saved more than 2,000 people inside the church," said Father Gulzar. "He has inspired local Christian youth and now many are joining the church's security," he said.

Very recently (6 January 2017), Father Francis Gulzar has written a formal letter to the archbishop of Lahore, His Grace Sebastian Shaw, asking that the cause for martyrdom of Akash Bashir be forwarded to Rome to be considered by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The most credible life witness is a martyrdom



Salesian Bulletin Logo Republished from the Australian Salesian Bulletin - Autumn 2017
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