In a gruesome incident that sent shockwaves through Dera Ghazi Minara, Sheikhupura, Punjab, a gang of armed robbers subjected two Christian women to sexual assault at gunpoint while keeping the men tied up and confined to a room.
This nightmarish event occurred in the early hours of September 14th, shattering the peaceful slumber of Intezar Masih (44 years old) and his family in their home.
Around 12:15 am, a group of six ruthless robbers descended upon the residence of Intezar Masih, situated in isolation roughly one kilometer from the village of Dera Ghazi Minara. Exploiting the cover of darkness due to a power outage, the assailants surreptitiously entered the house through the roof.
The commotion stirred Mr. Masih, his wife Rani Bibi (41 years old), his sister Farzana Bibi (36 years old), and the children from their peaceful sleep. To their sheer horror, they found themselves encircled by six masked men brandishing firearms.
Mr. Masih recounted the chilling threat they received to British Asian Christian Association (BACA), saying, “We were warned not to make any noise, as the armed robbers were armed with pistols and heavy guns.”
While two of the robbers held the entire family hostage, the others ransacked the house meticulously, looting everything they could lay their hands on. Their loot included jewelry and money from the wardrobe in the room.
Following the harrowing ordeal of robbery, the criminals instructed Mr. Masih to unlock the door of a cattle-shed on the property, intending to see if anything valuable was within. In a desperate plea, Mr. Masih implored them to spare his family, citing the extreme terror experienced by the children. In response, the gang’s leader ordered two of his accomplices to take Mr. Masih to a room and brutally assaulted him for his refusal.
Providing further details to BACA, Mr. Masih said, “Two of the robbers forcibly dragged me by my shoulder, took the children inside the room, beat me severely, and eventually tied me up with a rope before departing.”
The children and their patriarch were left bound and confined to the room, while Rani Bibi (41 years old) was taken to another room, where she cried out for mercy while enduring horrific sexual assaults by two of the men. Simultaneously, two other assailants took Farzana Bibi into a separate room, where she became the victim of sexual assault at gunpoint.
After this horrendous ordeal, Rani Bibi was brought back to the veranda, only to be taken to Mr. Masih’s welding workshop, where the remaining robbers subjected her to further sexual violence. The criminals left the family in a state of utter pain, trauma, and fear, warning them of dire consequences if they attempted to pursue them or contact the police.
Despite the grave threats, Mr. Masih managed to contact the police emergency helpline, ’15,’ seeking urgent assistance. The police responded swiftly, arriving at the scene, gathering crucial evidence, and ensuring the protection of the victimized family. Both Farzana Bibi and Rani Bibi were immediately taken to the District Hospital Sheikhupura for forensic analysis.
Intezar Masih shared his hope for justice as they await the forensic report and expressed gratitude for the police’s cooperation since the incident. To safeguard the family, the authorities assigned four officers for security outside the house, with two lady constables providing security within the residence.
On September 15th, a team from BACA visited the traumatized family to offer support and comfort. BACA’s lead officer offered prayers and assured them of legal assistance, a gesture that was deeply appreciated by Intezar Masih.
Intezar Masih, a welder who operates a small workshop attached to his house, is the patriarch of thee sole Christian family residing outside the village, which is approximately two kilometers from his home. He enjoys a commendable reputation in his village, where locals frequently turn to him for welding services.
Farzana Bibi, his sister, is married and has three children. She had been visiting her brother’s family when this horrifying incident unfolded, leaving them all scarred by fear and trauma.
Juliet Chowdhry, a Trustee for the British Asian Christian Association, expressed:
“This horrifying account is both deeply unsettling and utterly reprehensible.
“The heinous acts endured by this family are the result of malevolent individuals who must be relentlessly pursued and brought to justice.
“The lack of access to trauma counseling means that the women who have suffered such violence will have to endure their pain without the professional support they need.
“Nevertheless, this family draws strength from their faith, finding resilience through their unwavering connection with God.
“As the sole Christian family in the area, it appears that this crime targeted them due to their vulnerability and the sense of impunity that perpetrators often feel when targeting marginalized communities.
“We fervently hope that a diligent police investigation leads to the arrest and conviction of these extremely dangerous criminals.”
The family suffered losses amounting to approximately £150 in clothing and kitchen utensils, as well as £88 in cash during the robbery. Over £1000’s worth of Gold was also stolen. BACA has committed to covering the expenses incurred for the lost clothing and stolen cash resulting from this traumatic incident the family has been compensated with £230. Additionally, we have extended our support by offering a legal advocate to represent their case in the event the police identify and apprehend the culprits. In Pakistan cases of robbery, rape and murder are civil cases not state cases unless public demand exists.
In addition to these practical measures, we are dedicated to making regular visits to the family, offering both prayer and biblically-based counseling to aid in their recovery. It’s essential to note that our work involves expenses, and if you have been touched by this story and wish to contribute to our mission, your donations can make a significant difference. You can donate by clicking (here). Your support is deeply appreciated.