Pak-Christian family flee home after home invasion and arson attack by Muslim gang


Islamabad: October 4, 2018. (PCP) A Christian family from Gujar Khan is hiding in fear after a gang of six Muslim brothers from their neighborhood descended upon their home and assaulted all the family members that were in the house. On 20th September 2018 at 1pm Bashir Masih (58 yrs) and his wife Grace Masih (60 yrs) were attacked while standing at the gate of their house after being told that their ritual impurity was contaminating the local air. The ageing couple refused to go inside and three male neighbors ran over and pushed the pushed the couple into their house whilst also kicking Bashir hard on his legs telling him not to stand in their presence again. Bashir's wife Grace was also injured as she struggled to help her husband from the onslaught until a daughter-in-law ran to the doorway and quickly bolted the door keeping the assailants out. The family did not report the incident to the police due to a previous exhibited indifference to their concerns despite Bashir and his having to be treated at hospital. The following morning at 4am on 21st September, 12 men including the six known brothers from next door entered the home of Bashir and his family whilst they were asleep and beat them with sticks and the butt of guns with which two of the assailants were armed. The women of the family were also shamed by having their clothing ripped from their bodies as the men ogled them. The attackers then went on a rampage destroying property in the Christian family's house after which they set their house and car on fire. This was the most recent of a series of vicious assaults on the beleaguered family. Since last year the six brothers living in the house next door have attempted to intimidate the Pak-Christian family into abandoning their house by threats and harassing phone calls, because they hated having Christians next door to them. Initially the unreasonable insistence by the Muslim neighbors were ignored by the family, who thought they couldn't be serious about their illegal demand; however, it was not long before the retired couple and their five married children found out just how serious their neighbors were. When Bashir Masih (58 yrs) bought the land on which his family were to build their future home in 2014 from savings accrued through years of hard work resulting in a sizeable retirement fund, there was no angst or schism against their presence in the community. The family had lived close by for many years previously in rented accommodation with other Christians but wanted to own something of their own and could not have foreseen the polarization this would cause. Without causing any untoward disturbance and conscious of the sensibilities of their many neighbours the family worked as quietly as possible without working unsociable hours. Their diligent efforts resulted in a structure being erected in 2016 and with further work the home became livable with some electricity and other features by early 2017. The family moved in with great joy and an eagerness to establish their future in Gujar Khan the place of their birth proud that they finally had a place of their own to call home. A legacy was beginning. Within weeks of moving in the Muslim brothers next door began to challenge the Christian men in the household on their right to dwell in a street were only Muslims were residing. The Muslim gang would try to coax a fight and would threaten to kill the Christians if they did not leave the area and hand over possession of their property to them. The Muslim neighbors then entered a period of regular abuse towards the beleaguered Christians, they would block their pathways as they travelled to work or to shops and would be a general nuisance with noise and shouting. Threats that we shouted at the Christians daily were "When are you Chura leaving the house and giving it to us, stop defiling our land" and "leave now before you are killed or accused of blasphemy." As frightened as the Christians were they adamantly refused to leave their home which they had struggled so much to attain. This only served to anger the Muslim men who increased the campaign of attrition and brazenly opened fire around the Christian family's property without hitting anything in an attempt to further intimidate them in June 2017. The Muslim men are involved in drug trafficking and have a large arsenal of guns which they are not afraid to display. The family reported the incident to the local police at Gujar Khan Police Station. At that time the police refused registration of a crime and told the Masih that if they pursued a First Information Report (FIR) they themselves would be charged with blasphemy. Without pulling any punches local police advised the family that the next-door neighbors of Bashir are linked to serious criminal networks who the police would rather not confront. Instead the police forced an already perplexed family into a state of terror leaving them to dread potential blasphemy charges. The family went home distraught and decided to avoid any contact with the neighbors to prevent any further escalation of the threats to them. They got up early when required for work and travelled home later looking out for any sign of the neighbor. This seemed to calm things down for no other reason then the fact that their was no contact between the two families and the recent visit to the police sent out a slight warning. However, after two months of peace the intimidation began again full throttle with regular abuse being shouted at the family and other random shooting incidents which the family had to endure with no help from local police. A local neighbor heard screaming which brought his attention to the burning house and car and he called emergency services dialing 1122. The fire rescue team provided ambulatory services to the bleeding and injured victims and immediately set about tackling the fires. They also made a call to the police who arrived 10 minutes later and interviewed the victims. After the investigation they registered an official FIR for the first time under the name of accuser Bashir Masih. It is believed this was only undertaken because of the escalated concern from 1122 Emergency Services and the number of witnesses. This most recent invasion of their home has left the family shaken and expelled from a home the couple purchased with their retirement fund saved after a lifetime of dedicated work. They have no choice but to stay with relatives while they fight for justice. The police have thus far been no help, as they authorities kowtow to criminal gangs. The translation of the FIR Gujar Incident outline the family's economic situation: When Grace Masih (60) retired from her nursing career at the Health Department they bought the land of 12 Marla in Bhaga Gujar Khan and with her retirement money. Bashir Masih (58) was an ex-cleaner at the Health Department in Gular Khan until he retired two years ago and he started building the house on the land that they had purchased. The house was not yet fully completed when the family shifted here three years ago to avoid paying unnecessary rent on the other place. Bashir Masih has 5 children, 4 sons, 1 daughter. All are married the names are: Fiyaz Masih (36) Sobia (31) Imtiaz (30) Adnan (29) Imran (28) Ahsan (26). Out of the entire family only Imtiaz is still working in the Health Department. The home expenses are met through the pension of parents and Imtiaz's sole salary. They own a second-hand van, which is for personal use as well as some business. The names mentioned in the FIR of the attackers are 6 brothers who live in the next house to Bashir Masih. Bashir Masih told Leader Officer Mehwish Bhatti the following: "Everything was going fine until we shifted to our own home two years ago. These 6 brothers would threaten us verbally to leave this house but the family at first we did not take it too seriously. "I reported another similar incident to the District Superintendent for Police (DSP) before but he didn't take any action and in fact pressured and held it over our family to build relationships with the attackers. He told us to drop the charges or blasphemy charges would be laid against us. "We were told that they would send the whole family to Adyala Jail (Islamabad). My family and I caved in to the pressure and had no choice but to accept it. "The attackers are involved in the business of drug supply and are in the form of a big gang. None of the attackers have been arrested yet. The police are not cooperating at all. We are living with some relatives temporarily." Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said: "This beleaguered family have had to suffer inconceivable torture simply for adhering to their faith and progressing in life. "The perpetrators of the crime have clearly recognized the vulnerability of Christians and used this as a tool for persecution. "The whole situation has been exacerbated by the lack of will, professionalism and desire to help via the local Police. "This situation is not uncommon however, police authorities up and down the country are negligent when it comes to protecting minorities. This is because officers hold the same intolerance and hatred as the general public. "The Government of Pakistan has bred the intolerance against minorities through a poor education system in which the national curriculum itself caricatures minorities. Thus they are as culpable for these crimes as the social monsters they have created."

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