The impoverished Christians were left on stretchers outside hospital wards, anxiously awaiting medical attention from doctors.
Regrettably, the police have unlawfully rejected the application against the perpetrators, leaving the victims without legal recourse.
In response to this injustice, British Asian Christian Association (BACA) has approached the office of the District Police Officer (DPO), seeking assistance in registering a First Information Report (FIR) at the local police station to initiate a formal investigation into the incident.
In a distressing incident of religious oppression in Kasowal 41/14-L, Punjab, influential members of the local Muslim community, armed with guns, iron rods, and clubs, subjected a defenseless Christian family to brutal violence. This harsh treatment was meted out to them for their alleged failure to produce and return a Muslim woman who had eloped with one of the Christian men from the family.
Approximately a month ago, a Christian man named Nelson Masih eloped with a Muslim woman named Muskan Bibi. Their union was sealed through marriage after Nelson converted to Islam. Subsequently, the relatives and parents of Muskan contacted Piyara Masih, who happens to be William’s uncle, to demand the return of Muskan and the production of William. In response to this appeal, Piyara Masih and his brother Ulfat Masih cooperated with the Muslim family, actively participating in the search for the eloped couple. Despite their concerted efforts, they were unable to locate the couple within the circles of their close or distant relatives.
The incident unfolded on November 28th around 1:30 pm, when a hostile group, led by Muhammad Husnain Dogar, descended upon the farm where Piyara Masih (57 yrs) and his family were working.
The attackers, armed with guns, iron rods, and clubs, subjected the Christian family to a brutal assault, demanding the return of the woman who had eloped with Nelson Masih (25 yrs). Piyara Masih, along with his sons Patrick (18 yrs) and David (20 yrs), and his nephew Suleman (19 yrs), faced verbal and physical violence at the hands of the enraged mob.
According to Piyara Masih, the attackers entered the farm, hurling abusive language and accusing them of harboring the eloped couple. Despite Piyara’s pleas of innocence and ignorance about the couple’s whereabouts, the attackers refused to listen. Subsequently, threats to convert to Islam or face dire consequences were accompanied by screams of religious intolerance.
Piyara Masih recounted the harrowing ordeal, stating, “I was engrossed in harvesting corn with my sons and a nephew when they intruded into the farm, launching a relentless verbal assault.”
The furious gang demanded, “Return the woman your nephew eloped with.”
Confounded by the sudden attack, Piyara Masih asserted his innocence, explaining that he had no knowledge of the couple’s whereabouts. However, the enraged mob paid no heed to his honest response.
“You are aware of their hideout,” they accused.
“Convert to Islam with your family, or be prepared to face dire consequences today,” threatened one of the assailants. “You churah’s [lowest caste in India that would be involved in sweeping roles], I will end you today. Let’s see who will come to your rescue,” bellowed Husnain Dogar in his menacing voice.
The gang led by Mr Dogar then beat the family with clubs and a hoe, and subjected them to extreme verbal abuse, after which Mr Dogar and his cohorts resorted to gunfire. This resulted in injuries to the legs of both Suleman and Piyara Masih, causing them to collapse. Shockingly, the assailants continued their assault on the already severely injured family.
Undeterred, the culprits callously departed the scene, leaving behind a trail of threats. They brazenly warned the family that the inflicted punishment was just a fraction of what awaited them.
In a chilling statement, Muhammad Husnain Dogar declared, “We will not leave this village until you surrender the boy who has dared to disrespect us. Our revenge will only be satisfied when we have personally taken his life.”
In response to the gunshots and cries of Piyara Masih and his sons, a bystander from the gathered crowd promptly dialed 15 for police assistance and 1122 for medical aid. The police promptly arrived on the scene, collecting bullet casings as crucial evidence. Subsequently, the injured individuals were transported to Tehsil Headquarter Hospital Chichawatni. A dedicated medical team at the hospital provided treatment, expertly bandaging the wounds after removing the bullet casings.
Piyara Masih revealed that despite the Kosowal Police collecting evidence from the crime scene, they had not registered an FIR against the culprits. Instead, the Station House Officer instructed them to obtain a medico-legal certificate from the hospital before any police action could be taken. In response, BACA’s team met with police officers at the hospital, learning that the medical-legal certificate had already been sent to the relevant police station.
Piyara Masih holds the belief that this incident was a deliberate attempt to obstruct the pursuit of justice. He suspects that the influence behind this effort stems from the Dogar family’s well-established connections and numerous relatives employed within the local police force. This perceived collusion raises concerns about the fairness and impartiality of the legal process, prompting apprehension about the family’s ability to seek justice in the face of such influential adversaries.
Reacting swiftly, BACA accompanied Piyara Masih’s nephew, Clinton Masih, to the office of District Police Officer Sahiwal to file a complaint about the unjust behavior of officers in the department. Although the DPO was unavailable, the assistant officer immediately contacted the Station House Officer (SHO) of Kasowal Police station, directing him to file an FIR against the culprits.
On December 2nd, the police finally registered an FIR (No. 1199/23) against the culprits under sections 324, 337Al, 337, F1, 337 L2, 148, and 149 of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Expressing gratitude, Nicson Masih thanked BACA for assisting them in registering the FIR and appealed for legal aid to pursue justice. However, the situation took a distressing turn when it was discovered that the police had simultaneously filed another FIR (No. 1199/23) against Piyara Masih and his family under the same sections, alleging injuries to Muhammad Shahid Maqsood, Muhammad Akram, and Muhammad Faisal.
Nicson Masih informed BACA, “We intended to apply for pre-arrest bail, but the culprits and the police were present in court to arrest us.” Responding to the urgent need, BACA called them to Lahore on December 7th, and through their solicitor Naseeb Masih, successfully secured an interim bail from the Lahore High Court.
Because of safety concerns, Piyara Masih and his family have chosen not to return to their village. The perpetrators, who hold significant influence and financial power, have managed to avoid arrest, and it appears that the police are more inclined to assist them rather than uphold justice. A plea has been submitted to the British Asian Christian Association, requesting a solicitor to represent the family in court. If you wish to support the family, you can contribute to our Pakistan fund (here).