Christians in fear of Killing at Chak (Village) No. 44 District Mandi Bahauddin
On Friday May 6th, 2016 at about 11:30 am Ms. Katherine Sapna Director CTS received a call from Saleem Iqbal a journalist in Lahore, over the phone call he asked CTS help to the Christians at Chak (Village) No. 44 District Mandi Bahauddin as he was in direct contact with the local Christians in the village. He informed that the extremist local Muslims planning to attack Christians by setting their houses and church on fire after the Friday prayers. They broadcasted through the Mosque laud speakers in the adjacent villages to bring all Muslims together to kill Christians after they alleged a young Christian man named Imran Masih s/o Sharif Masih aged 24 for blasphemy.
On this News Ms. Katherine Sapna made a phone call to the Station House Officer at Chak (Village) No. 44 District Mandi Bahauddin and urged him to provide High security to the Christians at the spot. Mr. Saleem Iqbal also informed that he is trying to approach Federal Minister Kamran Michael to call upon the local police to provide protection to the Christian’s houses and to provide security for their life safety. Later CTS was informed that within 15 minutes 8- 10 policemen arrived at the place for the protection of Christians, which seems insufficient but they were succeeded to disperse the crowd from the Scene.
Facts of the case
On Sunday May 08, 2016 two residents of Chak 44 named Aamir Yaqoob s/o of Yaqoob Masih and Arif Masih s/o Atta Masih approached Saleem Iqbal (journalist) office in Lahore and informed that Imran Masih s/o Sharif Masih is a young Christian of 24 years. He is an employee as a Janitor at a Health Care Centre in the same locality for last couple of years and working among several Muslim colleagues. Imran is enough frank with his Muslim colleagues therefore he was invited to attend a wedding ceremony of his Muslim colleague’s daughter on April 16, 2016; meantime Imran made video clips and recorded a few parts of wedding ceremony in his mobile phone. After wedding when he was again at his work on Monday April 19, 2016, he was asked to show movie clips to his colleagues. Even he handed over his cell phone to one of his colleagues. Later on Imran noticed that Mohammad Bilal, an owner of local medicine store adjacent to his workplace was holding his phone and showing online provocative lectures of Pastor Dr. Samie Samson to other workers standing around him. When Imran asked Mohammad Bilal to return his phone he refused to give him mobile phone back. Mohammad Bilal accused Imran of watching anti-Islamic lectures of Christian Pastors on You Tube. Mohammad Bilal gave a slap on Imran’s face and asked others to beat him. Imran asked his colleagues that he was not use to of watching the lectures or other things about Pastor Samie Samson and requested to let them go. After beating him severely they locked him in a room and did not allow him to go. Luckily Imran had another cell phone in his pocket, so he could call a Christian brother named Aamir Masih who is also a member of his Church Committee and informed him about the situation.
Aamir Masih along with a few other Committee members met with the senior doctor of the health care centre and inquires about Imran. They solved the matter with the doctor by telling him about illiteracy of Imran and that he is unable to operate such functions on his mobile phone: so the committee members were able to rescue Imran.
A Muslim coworker Mulvi Manzoor told Imran that he should go to Mohammad Bilal and ask for forgiveness just to make the things clear. Imran was agreed and come with Manzoor to Bilal’s place but he was not at his desk. Mulvi Manzoor informed Mohammad Bilal through cell phone that Imran wanted to apologize. Mohammaed Bilal became furious and he said over the telephone that he has connections with the religious scholars of Jamaat Ul- Dawa in Sargodha and that the scholars have issued a fatwa (an Islamic religious ruling, a scholarly opinion) that Imran has committed Blasphemy by watching anti-Islamic lecture and has no right to life. Mulvi Manzoor become worried and he suggested Imran to escape; Imran got scared fled for safety while his family especially parents were worried about him, they inquired again and again at his work place but there was not a response. Later on Sharif Masih (Imran’s father) was informed by Mulvi Manzoor about the life danger to Imran by Mohammad Bilal.
Meanwhile the news spread about the incident of blasphemy among the Muslims in the surrounding villages and that Imran Masih is liable to death. On April 29, 2016 during the Friday prayer the local Muslim clerics made announcements in the loudspeaker about the FATWA against Imran Masih and encouraged Muslim community for the social boycott of all Christian residents of Chak 44. Then it was decided that all shopkeepers will not sell anything for local Christians.
A local Muslim businessman named Irshad Jhakar has announced the prize of rupees one hundred thousand (US$ 10,000) as a reward for the killing of Imran Masih. A few local Muslims Inayat Mahajir, Mistri Bashir and Saddique Arrayian planned to attack Christians and to torch their houses and worship place. Mohammad Riaz, member of a local committee, encouraging people for the killing of Imran Masih as he is liable to death.
Muslim committee has inquired the matter with the doctors at Imran’s work place. Although the doctors reported no such incident of Blasphemy took place in the health center but the Muslims continue planned an attack on Christians. Hate speeches against Christians in the mosque loudspeaker to instigating Muslims was routine.
The situation became worse when Iqbal Masih asked permission on May 05 for the wedding ceremony of his daughter which was decided on May 07, 2016, But the Muslim committee did not allow Iqbal Masih to arrange wedding function of his daughter in the village as punishment. They threatened Iqbal Masih for attack on Christian’s otherwise handover Imran Masih to them.
The next day on May 06, 2016 after Friday prayer Muslim clerics called upon surrounding Muslims to be gathered at Chak 44. It was alarming situation for Christians therefore one of the local Christians Aamir Masih called upon (mobile police) at 15 police helpline and informed about the tense situation in the village. According to Aamir Masih within 20 minutes eight (8) to ten (10) policemen reached the spot and dispersed the mob. In few minutes Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) was on the place among the police squad. DSP recorded statements of the Muslim Committee Members. After one day police left the place as they feel that there was no issue.
Aamir Masih and Arif Masih reported that the locals are not satisfied with the attitude of police as they did not recorded statements of Christian residents and without knowing their situation they did not take responsibility to provide security to the Christians for that reason the Christians have fled for safety; there are a few living in fearful situation. Due to the social boycott they have nothing to eat. There are only 45 families living among the Muslim masses.
Christians’ True Spirit – CTS urge the Punjab Government and the Federal Government to take a serious notice of the situation of Christians at Chak 44 District Mandi Bahauddin. The Government should ensure the security of Imran Masih and his family and other Christians at Chak 44 otherwise provide them alternative safe places.
Imran (victim of blasphemy) and his family is in contact with CTS and requested for possible help for protection and safety. CTS willing to take responsibility to provide safe accommodation to this distressed family at its sanctuary house.
Christians True Spirit – CTS