Christian family’s house, van torched in land grab bid in Gujar Khan | Pakistan Today

Christian family’s house, van torched in land grab bid in Gujar Khan

–At least 12 armed men, allegedly supported by ex-PM Raja Pervaiz Ashraf’s brother, torture men, women and children

LAHORE: A poor Christian family is running from pillar to post for justice after members of a local land mafia, allegedly patronised by the brother of a former prime minister, tortured them and set their house on fire in Gujar Khan, Pakistan Today has learnt.

Bashir Masih, a retired sanitary worker of the Punjab Health Department, said that his house was attacked by at least 12 armed men on Sept 21, Ashura day.

“My wife and I were standing on our doorstep when two accused – Imran and Ihsan – attacked us without any provocation on Sept 20. They called us Choorha (a derogatory term used for Pakistani Christians) and beat both of us mercilessly,” said the 60-year-old man, adding that he could not find any plausible reason for the attack given the fact that they were the only Christian family in the village and had never been involved in any dispute with the assailants.

Masih and his wife have four sons, all of whom are married and have 4-5 children each. The family settled in the village 5 years ago and have been living together ever since.

“The next day, around 4 am, a person named Muhammad Kamran telephoned my son Fayyaz and threatened him to vacate the house within three days failing which they would kill us all,” Masih said, adding that the gangsters were part of the local land mafia allegedly protected by Raja Javed Ashraf, the brother of former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.

Masih said the family was still reeling from the other day’s attack when around 3.30pm at least 12 assailants, armed with weapons, stormed their house and attacked the family, ruthlessly beating the men, women and children.

“They stripped the clothes of my daughters-in-law and forced them out on the street. They also threw the children, some as young as two, against the walls. My sons and I were hit with gun butts and iron rods amid volleys of abuse and threats,” he said, adding that the gangsters kept shooting in the air the entire time as the entire village looked on in silence.

Masih said that the assailants also looted jewellery and other valuables and then set the house and a Suzuki van owned by his son on fire before escaping the scene.

Though the Gujar Khan Police have registered an FIR [First Information Report] No. 504/18 against 12 men, none of the accused has been arrested so far.

Sub-Inspector Khaliq Khan of Gujar Khan Police Station said all of the accused nominated by the family had obtained pre-arrest bail, however, their bails would be canceled as they had been charged under non-bailable offences.

Khan said the incident appeared to be an attempt to grab the family’s property; however, the matter would become clearer after the arrest of the accused.

Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and his brother Javed Ashraf remained unavailable for comment.

The Pakistan Centre for Law and Justice (PCLJ) is providing legal assistance to the family, said Napolean Qayyum, an official of the rights outfit.

Qayyum said the incident was clearly an attempt to grab the house of the Christian family as all the accused nominated in the FIR were notorious in the area for their criminal activities.

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