August 14, 2006, â€œ Independence Day of Pakistanâ€ A Gift to Christians for their vote in formation of Pakistan in 1947, â€œAnother Church and house burnt by Muslim Mafia.
Land Mafia attacked on the Christian village at Moman Pura,
Thaiki District Sheikhupura. Three Christian men are in hospital in critical condition, one is abducted while other villagers are under threats to death. Mr. Sohail Johnson, chief Coordinator of Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan (SLMP) rushed to help the villagers.
A small village called as Moman Pura Thaiki situated at Sharak Pur District Sheikhupura, about 35 Km away from central Lahore. Village was formed after 88's flood in river Ravi when several villages living by the river were flooded out and formed a new village Moman Pura consisted of about 55 Christian families and 12 Muslim families. The settlers moved to a wasteland and populated the inhospitable surroundings of District Sheikhupura. They approached to Patwari (record keeper of lands) to know about the owner of the land. Patwari told them that he has not any record of the land. They also approached Forest Department to know about the legal owner of the land but they also refused them. In the beginning they took refuge in tents but they started living properly. (As they got satisfied that there is no owner of the land who will dispossess them in future). They built mud houses for living and adopted different occupations for earning. Most of the villagers adopted field labor of near by Muslim land lords. Some people run their small business of animal farming, like cattle for selling milk.
1988 to 2000, no one claimed ownership to land of the village. In the year 2000, Christian villagers built a church over there with their self support. When the church was under construction a Muslim fellow named as Yaqoob Maher, belongs to land mafia, resident of Village Pajian about 1km away from Village Thaiki, claimed his ownership to the land of village Thaiki. Yaqoob Maher has strong terms with local police, land department and other concerning authorities. He made forged documents of the land and filed a petition in court for the stay of church construction. Court granted him stay but case was not proved in favor of Yaqoob Maher and court the set aside the stay order afterwards. Meanwhile it was proved that Yaqoob Maher used a fake stamp of District Coordination Officer (D.C.O) to make the documents of the disputed land and the court awarded him six months imprisonment in this regard.
When Yaqoob Maher got released from the jail and came back to his village, he started to persecute the villagers. He tried to take possession on the village land by hook or by crook. He became much covetous by the passage of time especially few months ago when WAPDA surveyed the village and electricity supply is expected (there is no electricity supply or such kind of facility).
Finally Yaqoob Maher attacked the village on 7th August 2006 along with 12 blackguards armed with chops and deadly weapons. They attacked on the church, cut the door and the windows of the church with chops. They shouted and harassed the villagers. The attackers dragged out some of villagers from their houses and tortured severely. They threatened all the villagers to death and said them to leave the village Three Christian villagers named as MUNIR MASIH, SHARAFAT MASIH and MEHMOOD got injured with chop blows. They were transported to Services Hospital Lahore in critical situation. First the emergency management denied admitting the victims but afterwards they were formally admitted and still under treatment.
Villagers approached local police and moved application against the culprits but police did not lodge FIR about on application, as it is already mentioned above that Yaqoob Maher has strong terms with local police. Police threatened Christian villagers and get them out from police station after insulting them.
Yaqoob Maher used his power and filed a false application on 8th August 2006 against Bashir Masih, Falak Masih. Nazir Masih, Saleem Masih, Chand Masih, Aslam Masih, Akram Masih, Moodi (Injured) Masih, Mithu Masih and Sharafat Masih (Injured), accused them to open fire on him. Police got case registered vide FIR No. 371/06, offence under section 148/149, 337 A1, A2, F5, L2 with Police station Sharak Pur, on his application while they took no action on Christian villagers' application instead of critical situation of MUNIR MASIH, SHARAFAT MASIH and MEHMOOD.
Influence of CLAAS
Meanwhile the National Director CLAAS, Mr. Joseph Francis came to know about the occurrence and rushed the place to occurrence. He investigated the matter and met with Station House Officer of local police station. The National Director CLAAS also met with high officials of the police and make them aware about the occurrence. He also told the authorities about the negligence and mischievous behave of Station House Officer of local police with Christian villagers. Local police recorded the cross version of Christian villagers against Yaqoob Maher and others on 12th August 2006 at about 01:30am, with influence of Mr. Joseph Francis.
On 12th August 2006 early in the morning, Yaqoob Maher and his companions filed their interim bail applications in the session court which were granted.
Same day Chief Coordinator of Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan received a telephonic message from the National Director CLAAS who told all about the occurrence and asked to accompanied to the village in the afternoon. Chief Coordinator SLMP along with team members accompanied the National Director CLAAS. SLMP Team also picked an associate journalist from ANS (Assist News Service) and reached the place at about 4:00 pm.
All the villagers were gathered at one place when team reached. Villagers were scared and much frightened. They were afraid of attacks from Yaqoob Maher.
SLMP Team collected data and the statements of the villagers as under;
Bashir Masih (Councilor)
He replied to one of the SLMP team member, "We are facing persecution of Yaqoob Maher for a long time. Yaqoob Maher's sons and his blackguards, so many times tried to rape our girls but fortunately we saved them. They attacked on village so many times, tortured us and insulted us. we approached police but police did not listen to us. Yaqoob Maher has very strong terms with local police." According to Bashir Masih if Yaqoob will be succeeded to demolish the church, he would easily take possession on the whole land of village.
He further said to SLMP team member, "Yaqoob made fake documents of the village land, actually the land is Government property. We want Pakistan Government to allot this land to the villagers so that we can live here peacefully."
On the question of SLMP team member He said, "We are poor and really very weak in front of Yaqoob Maher. We tried our level best to settle the problem but all in vain. Yaqoob became more covetous after the survey of WAPDA who promised us for electric supply. In fact official work of electric supply to our village was going on but Yaqoob Maher approached the department and stopped the work."
Joint Statement of Sughran, Slamtain and Mukhtaran
"We are residing here from 1988. We are living here under the hanging risk of Yaqoob Maher. He can attack on us any time. Our children can not play or go out freely due to the fear of Yaqoob. They can cause harm to us by any way."
When the SLMP team was interviewing the villagers, suddenly somebody shouted, "Hey the police are coming." That was very terrible scene, that about 15/20 men ran away and hide in the jungle. Team members shouted and called them backed but they did not.
SLMP team prayed for them and consoled them. SLMP team turned back to Lahore at about 9:30p.m. to Services Hospital meet the injured persons but it was great shocked for the team members when they came to know that the injured persons has been escaped from the hospital with inform the medical staff. The nurse who was on duty at that time said "Munir and Sharafat were admitted through DMS' (Deputy Medical Superintendent) personal request and know we do not know that when and where they have gone. SLMP team interrogated in emergency register there were enter the names of Munir and Sharafat vide no's 142780 and 142781, and they were shifted into the surgical ward no. 1 ward no. 2, SLMP again search them but unfortunately they were not there. Then SLMP team came back to office at about 10:45p.m. SLMP team was about to reach the office when Mr. Joseph Francis informed that Muslims attacked on the Church and burnt a house. He said "please reach as soon as possible there, I am also on the way" At about 12:30 team reached the village. The National Director CLAAS was already reached there and called the Superintendent of Police and District Police Officer (DPO). He was talking aggressively with the high officials and was claiming that we are not satisfied with the role of police in this case and police is totally failed to protect the poor villagers and control the situation. He complaint about the SHO named as Ibrahim Warraich and Moheror of Local police station. he said to the DPO that he should suspend them right now and appoint the loyal SHO for this case.
Chief Coordinator Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan said the superintendent of police that why police came too late after the occurrence and he should appoint the corp. of police for at all the entrance of the village and mobile police also should be petrol here after every hour. Mr. Joseph Francis said that police should arrest the real culprits of this occurrence as soon as possible otherwise we will organize a protest against police. DPO ordered to suspend SHO and Moheror and appointed the new SHO for this case and ordered him to protect the village as much as he can and he said that arrest the accused persons as soon as possible and report him back. He assured that police will cooperate with the complainant and protect the poor innocent people.
After one hour Elite force came to search the abductee in the jungle but they could not find him out. Police arrested two accused after four hours. It was awful scene when in the early morning at about 5:00 am when two old women came in front of the burnt church. They were praying there with tears. On 13th August 2006 at about 6:30 am SLMP turned back to Lahore.
It is becoming a usual of Christian community especially in small villages that land mafia forces are increasing to take possession on Church lands. It is already reported regarding Kasur Church, Khhambay Village Lahore and many other Christians persecuted for the land. Government should take serious action against land mafia and discourage such kind of persecution with minorities of Pakistan.
It is requested to keep remember all the victims of Moman Pura, Thaiki and especially pray for Munir, Sharafat and Mehmood who are in hospital.
Pray for Yaqoob Maher and his companions that God show them the right way. Amen