Muslims attack on Church in Gujranwala:
|One Christian woman named Shakeela killed and 28 worshipers injured when Muslim mob attacks Sangowali Aroop Presbyterian Church with firearms. Sagowali is village with 45 Christian and 200 Muslim families in Gujranwala District.
|Gujranwala: March 5, 2009. On 2nd March 2009, A Muslim group attacked on Christians at Sangowali Aroop Village District Gujranwala. The attackers were armed with weapons and wooden rods. A Christian lady named Shakeela aged 35 years died with critical injuries while 28 got injured; three of them are still hospitalized. The attackers also opened fires on local church.
SLMP team consisting five members named Mr. Sohail Johnson Chief Coordinaor SLMP, Shahzad Kamran Field Officer, Pastor Phillip Dutt Coordinator SLMP unit Gujranwala, Mr. Zahid Daniel volunteer and Samuel Ahsan volunteer visited the place of occurrence at Sangowali village Gujranwala. Mr. Sohail Johnson led the team. SLMP team met with Shakeela’s family and expressed sorrowful feelings to them on death of Shakeela. SLMP team also met with injured Christians and interviewed them. SLMP team visited the church and saw spots of firing on church walls.
The village Sangowalli is not an establish area, 45 Christian families are living there among perhaps more than 200 Muslim families. There is only one church of United Presbyterian denomination.
Brief Facts of the Occurrence
According to the facts collected by SLMP team, a Christian young boy named as Imran son of Moras Masih used to work at CDs shop. On 25th February 2009, in the evening, he was coming back from duty. When he was on the way, some Muslim guys named as Waseem Butt, Zeeshan Butt, Shaheen and others stopped him in the way, they snatched his cell phone and tried to take him in a dark room. According to Imran Masih the culprits attempted to sodomize him, but he escaped. Imran reached home and told to his family about the incident. His uncle, with assistance of some Christian elders, moved an application against the culprits. After few days a lady died in Muslims guys’ family, so Christians did not pursue the application. In the mean time police called Waseem etc to record there version. Waseem and others became aggressive that Christians have moved application for legal action against them. They misinformed police that their patch up with Imran etc is going to be done so that police may stop legal action.
On 2nd March 2009, to fulfill their grudge Waseem Butt, Zeeshan Butt, Shaheen and other attacked Christians. They trespassed on Christians’ houses and tortured them ruthlessly. They also opened fires on Church building.
A Christian lady named Shakeela got severe injuries and could not survived, she got expired while 17 Christians got injured, 3 of them are still hospitalized.
Criminal case has been registered the culprits vide First Information Report (FIR) No. 87 offence under section 302/452, 337FI/337L2, 337AI/148, 149 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) with Police Station Aroop Gujranwala.
Detail of Victims of Attack
Sr. # Name Age occupation Injury
1. Shakeela wife of Mazoor 35 Years Housewife Head Injuries
Discharged from Hospital
2. Dilawer son of Sadiq 22 Years Labor Head Injury
3. Asif son of Baga Masih 19 Years Labor Head Injury
4. Azmat s/o Iqbal Real Brothers 19 Years Labor Injury on Nose
5. Tariq s/o Iqbal 18 Years Labor Injury on Right Arm & Face
6. Sajid son of George 20 Years Labor Head Injury
7. Baber son of Sadeeq 20 Years Student of 10th Class Head Injury
8. Imran son of Moras 20 Years Labor Injury on Forehead
Still in Hospital
9. Iqbal son of Manga Masih 48 Years Labor Head Injury
10 Naziran widow of Sardar 80 Years Housewife Injury on Head & Backbone
11. Basharat son of Iqbal 25 Years Labor Head Injury
Note: There were some more Christians got slight injuries and were discharged after first aid.
Introduction of Shakeela’s (deceased) family.
Shakeela was mother of two daughters and a son. Her husband Manzoor Masih, 45, (complainant of the case) is government employee. The eldest daughter Rafaila is about 18 years old. She has left school after her matriculation and remained free at home. Another daughter named as Shumaila is 17 years and of second year student of Facility of Arts, the youngest one is Sharoon (son). He is student of 10th class.
Family is well reputed in the area for their church activities. People of the area told that this is very humble and God fearing family in the village.
Statements of Shakeela’s (deceased) family members;
SLMP team asked eldest daughter of Shakeela named Rafaila, about the occurrence. She told, “One the day of occurrence we were at home, all of sudden, Muslim men attacked. That was an abrupt attack, the doors burst open and Muslim men carrying weapons and wooden rods rushed in. One of the attackers named Shaheen hit my mother repeatedly with weapon on her head which caused her casualty. My mother fell on ground. I hold her in my arms; she died in my arms…” Rafaila was shedding tears while she gave her statement. She further told, “We also phoned to emergency rescue team on 1122, but they could not reach us because of heavy firing by Muslim illegal group.”
Sharoon was very upset and weeping continuously during SLMP’s stay at deceased’s home. He said, “We don’t want to live here in this village, they (Muslim group) are still threatening my father. I do not forget the death of mother, she died helplessly.” SLMP team members consoled him showed him love and care. SLMP team did not ask him further question because he was very downhearted.
SLMP team interviewed Manzoor Masih who said, “Death of my wife is an irreparable loss to me and my children. I am concerned that Muslims are very strong here, we are poor, and we can not afford enmity with them. They will kill us too.”
Shakeela’s younger daughter Shumaila was also weeping badly, SLMP team could not interview her.
A Christian young lady from neighborhood named Sana told that Muslim group was beating Christian females ruthlessly. When they tortured Shakeela, she fell down on the ground with severe injuries, and the attackers insultingly said that Shakeela was pretending of be died.
According to the SLMP team’s facts, police came to the spot after about 30 minutes. The Muslim group has been beating Christians meanwhile. When police came, the attackers fled away, and police rescued the injured persons to the Civil Hospital Gujranwala. Civil Hospital produced first aid to the injured persons, but Shakeela was referred to Lahore due to her critical condition.
Chief Coordinator Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan Mr. Sohail Johnson expressed his sorrowful feelings on this incident. He encouraged family of Shakeela and rest of injured persons to be strong. He said that entire Christians of the area should stand with Manzoor Masih to fight his legal case in the court. He said that they should share their sources with Manzoor. He condemned fear of the family. He assured SLMP’s ever possible help to pursue the lawsuit. He said that CLAAS will provide legal help to Manzoor and he is not alone in this worst situation.
Meeting with Station House Officer police Station Aroop
After meetings with the injured Christians of the village and Shakeela’s family members, SLMP team along with Manzoor Masih and some Christian villagers, went to Police Station Aroop and met with S.H.O named Mohammad Riaz. He is Investigation Officer (I.O) of the case. He told that he has transferred from Karachi and has taken charge of Police Station Aroop just four days ago. He is very new to the area. On asking SLMP team member, he told, “I reached the place of occurrence within 25 minutes, that was very shocking to me that the culprits trespassed on Christians’ houses and tortured females of the family. I rescued to all the injured persons to the hospital. He also told that police has arrested one of the main accused persons nominated in FIR. He treated SLMP team politely. He said that his all sympathies are with victim families. He promised that he will provide every possible help to Manzoor. He also assured that Police will not demand even a single penny Manzoor or complainant party.
An Important Concern
An impotent concerned has been discussed with I.O that the opponent party has left an very old women who is sick and about to die, at adjoined house of Manzoor etc. It is expected that they want to make a cross murder case, in case the old women dies. SLMP team member made a draft of application in which the fact has been given. Application has been moved at the spot. I.O said that he will discuss the mater with Deputy Inspector and find out the way according to the law.
SLMP team requested SHO to allow the team to meet accused person arrested. Two of team members saw Waseem in the lock up, SHO was with team members, he did not allow team members to talk with the accused.
Visit to Civil Hospital Gujranwala
SLMP team visited Civil Hospital Gujranwala and met with three injured persons of the incident. Team also interviewed the doctor treating the injured persons.
Iqbal Masih son of Manga Masih is about 45 years old, married with 3 sons and 1 daughter. He is admitted in Neuro Surgical Ward No. 1. He has head injury.
Basharat is about 32 years old. He is admitted in Surgical Ward No. 8. He also has head injury.
Naziran Bibi is about 80 years old; she is mother in law of Shakeela (deceased). She has injuries on her head and back. She is admitted in Female Nuero Ward No. 2. She was feeling severe pain. SLMP team prayed for injured persons and assured them of every possible help. Mr. Sohail Johnson said them not to lose their hearts and be strong.
Meeting with Doctor
SLMP team met with Doctor named as Dr. Mateen. He told that he received Iqbal etc on very first day and is treating them since that time. He told that first 12 hours were very critical for Naziran Bibi, Iqbal and Basharat, but now they are stable. He hopes that all will be recovered soon.
On asking SLMP team, he said that Hospital is providing all medicine to the patients except few of tablets which are not available in the hospital. He told that Naziran will take long time to be recovered completely because she is too old. He expressed his sympathies for Naziran Bibi.
Legal Position of the Case
SLMP team asked to Samson Joseph Advocate CLAAS Lawyer in Gujranwala, about the legal position of the case. He will fight the case in law court on behalf of Manzoor etc. Samson Joseph told that he is satisfied with the health of First Information Report, but there is am important legal point we have to be work out on. He said that statements of injured persons and the complainant (Manzoor) are very important. Police did not record their statements yet, which should have been recorded until now. He offered Manzoor and others to give him time and he will help them how to record their statements.
SLMP observed a pressure on Shakeela’s family because Muslims are strong there and in majority, but team also observed that Christians of the area are very supportive to Manzoor. The injured persons are stable now, those who are still in hospital they will be recovered soon by the grace of God. Police seems to be cooperative with Manzoor but there is no guarantee if it will remain same in future.
Mr. Sohail Johnson condemned this incident and expressed his feelings saying that we should our persecuted church at any cost. He said that he is disappointed that no Church leader or Christian political leader visit Manzoor and his children to console them. He urge Church to pray for this oppressed family and all the injured in this incident.