One believer missing, three severely injured; police file charges against victims.
August 18 (Compass Direct News) – In an attempted land-grab, Muslim attackers have terrorized a predominantly Christian village in Pakistan’s Punjab province over the past two weeks and demolished its church.And yes, the victims were charged.
Three Christian men were hospitalized with serious hatchet wounds from an initial August 7 attack on Mominpura Thaiki village near Sharaqpur, 20 miles southwest of Lahore. The Muslim aggressors came from a neighboring village.
Another critically injured Christian, Bashir Masih, was abducted and remains missing since a second assault on the village on Saturday (August 12), when he tried to stop armed attackers from stealing his cattle.
When the Christian villagers tried to file an official complaint against the assailants, local Sharaqpur police refused to comply, insulting them and ordering them to leave the police station.The suspects were arrested and it looks as if some of this is being sorted out, but;
Instead, the police filed an official complaint from Maher on August 8 against 10 of the villagers, accusing the Christians of “opening fire” on him.
Three days later, a fact-finding team from the Center for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) helped the villagers file an amendment to Maher’s complaint. The August 11 First Information Report (FIR) formally accused Maher and his named accomplices of creating riots, damaging the church and harassing the villagers.
But by 9 the next morning, local police had intervened and the accused Muslims were all granted pre-arrest bail. According to one eyewitness at the court, town nazim (mayor) Mian Jalil was seen paying out the money for the suspects’ bail.
At 10 that evening, a mob of 30 Muslims led by Maher and armed with machine guns and hand grenades descended on Thaiki village. The intruders began to beat all the Christian residents they could find, including women and children, and completed the ruin of the church.
With many of the men away that evening at a prayer service, several of the Christian women took shelter in the houses of their Muslim neighbors, who drew guns to protect them and shot at Maher and his accomplices, finally driving them off.
Under the ongoing investigation led by officer Rana Aslam, four of the accused suspects have been arrested, including Maher and two of his sons. But police have found no trace of Bashir Masih since he was dragged off by his assailants six days ago.Let us pray for Bashir Masih. I hope for the best, but from these savages I expect only the worst.
“We don’t know if he is dead or alive, or what,” CLAAS legal advisor Aneeqa Maria told Compass. In his early 30s, Masih lived in the house adjacent to the village church. His wife and children have fled the village to stay with relatives since his disappearance.