Breaking Chains: BACA’s Triumph in Securing Freedom for Akram Masih and Family
In a powerful testament to resilience and justice, BACA has achieved a significant victory by liberating Akram Masih, a brick kiln worker subjected to years of exploitation, and rescuing his daughter Nagina Bibi from a harrowing abduction and assault that lasted 25 days.
In October of last year, BACA initiated a mission to support Akram Masih, who was laboring in servitude at a brick kiln in Auluck Bonga, Phoolnagar. His appeal for legal and financial assistance stemmed from the abduction of his vulnerable 14-year-old daughter, Nagina Bibi. In a desperate effort to seek justice, Akram Masih aimed to secure safety and freedom, which proved challenging under an indentured labour contract.
Despite facing initial resistance from the covetous brick kiln owner, Muhammad Amjad, BACA embarked on the arduous journey to secure Akram Masih’s freedom.
The journey to liberate Akram Masih was fraught with challenges. Despite expressing our intention to settle Masih’s debts and secure his release, Muhammad Amjad, the brick kiln owner, proved uncooperative. Undeterred, our team persisted, making a winter trek of 70 kilometers through dense fog to confront him at his office. The discovery of inadequate wages, as revealed in the ledger, underscored the severity of the exploitation faced by the Masih family. Mr. Masih expressed at the time:
“I receive lower wages for the work I perform at the brick kiln due to borrowing money from the owner.”
“Others are compensated with 2000 Rs (£5.60) for producing 1,000 bricks, while I, for the same quantity of work, am paid only 1,000 Rs. (£2.80).
“We were permitted to take leave only on days when the brick kiln operations ceased due to rain or adverse weather conditions.”
On January 18th, following careful negotiations and the preparation of a legally binding agreement by our solicitor for 177000 Rs. (£500), along with the payment of a substantial debt totaling 786,000 Rs. (£2,354), BACA successfully liberated Akram Masih, his wife Parveen Bibi (45 yrs), and their daughter Nagina Bibi from a decade-long cycle of oppression. Parveen Bibi conveyed profound joy at finally breaking free from the chains of slavery, signifying the conclusion of a decade-long ordeal that commenced with borrowing funds for their daughter’s wedding in 2013. Subsequently, another loan was taken to cover the medical expenses of Akram Masih during his illness. On their own, the family believed they would never have been able to repay the loan, given that the debt burgeoned exponentially despite receiving only half of their wages. The exorbitant interest rate compounded monthly, exacerbating their financial struggles.
A New Beginning:
Moved by the family’s plight, BACA has relocated them to the care of trusted relatives in a safe location, with plans to transition them to a secure house shortly. The promise of a fresh start for the Masih family is a testament to the transformative impact of collective efforts against injustice.
The Nightmare of Nagina’s Abduction:
The nightmare unfolded on September 1st when Nagina Bibi, just 14 years old, was abducted en route to school. Transported to Lahore, she endured unspeakable horrors at the hands of her abductors. Akram Masih sought police assistance through Muhammad Amjad, but the police, unable to apprehend the culprits, failed to register an FIR. It took 25 agonizing days for Nagina to be rescued from her captors in Aulukh Bonga. Read more (here)
A Ray of Hope:
Muhammad Abid, the main culprit, has been arrested and is in prison on judicial remand. Advocate Abid Gujral assures us that justice will prevail, and Nagina will find closure against the barbarism she endured. Your support is crucial in ensuring that families like the Masih’s can rebuild their lives and experience the justice they deserve.
The triumph over Akram Masih’s oppression and Nagina’s abduction exemplifies the impact of collective action. BACA continues to be a beacon of hope for those facing injustice, but our work is not done. Your support and contributions can make a lasting difference in the lives of families like the Masih’s. Together, let us break chains, restore dignity, and create a world where justice prevails. Donate (here) today to be a part of this transformative journey.
Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for the British Asian Christian Association, reflected on the situation:
“While nothing can ever truly compensate for the violence and trauma inflicted upon Nagina, there is a glimmer of hope that justice will prevail in this instance. The police’s diligent approach, evidenced by the substantial collection of proof, indicates a seriousness toward addressing this crime.
“With the unwavering support of our donors, we have been able to liberate Nagina and her family from the shackles of slavery. Freedom is priceless, and we earnestly hope and pray that their future is marked by enhanced safety, spiritual growth, and material prosperity.
“Their newfound freedom provides the space to pursue justice without the looming threat of violence, amplifying the potential for success in the ongoing rape trial. Together, with the continued support of our donors, we aim to empower survivors like Nagina, fostering a future where justice, dignity, and freedom reign.”