A small Christian village were subjected to a violent mob attack by over 300 Muslim villagers on 14th May 2021, creating fear and anxiety and leaving a trail of injured victims. People from the christian community of Chak 5, Okara are still in fear of a further attack and little help or support is being provided by police who are claiming that they are powerless to defend the innocent people in the community.
The angst against the Christians began not from the usual false blasphemy attacks that ensue against vulnerable and hated Christians in Pakistan but something much more innocuous. The simple act of washing the floor of a church became the cause of the community flare up.
In the early morning on the day of the unprovoked attack two young christian volunteers Waqas (14 yrs) and Shehroz (18 yrs) were cleaning the Church in preparation for the upcoming church service. While they were cleaning the entrance to the church, a local Muslim man named Muhammad Imran Yunis was passing by on his motor bike. It is believed a small amount of water from their mops hit his shoes which resulted in his insulting the boys for staining his shoes with ritually impure water. After shouting insults like Churah meaning dirty Christians and a number of expletives he rode off after threatening violence. The two youths simply carried on working even though they were shook up and a little flustered. They did not believe the man would return later to attack them as they had been courteous and apologetic in response to his venomous verbal attack.
However, Muhammad Imran was not satisfied with his verbal tirade and returned with several friends only minutes later. Along with men named Muhammad Munir, Khalil, Mujib, Nadeem and Hamza he started beating the boys with sticks and iron rods. The attack was so vicious it cause several injuries including broken bones to both the young Christian volunteers and a third Christian man named Emmanuel who tried to intervene and stop the violence. All three men were hospitalised.
The next day, on 15th May, the perpetrator Muhammad Imran Yunis along with a mob of over 300 irate Muslims, simply insulted by Christians living near their community carried out an organized attack on the christian homes. The men in the large mob were armed with guns, glass bottles, baton and sticks. They climbed up the walls and roofs of the christian’s houses and threw bricks at the house dwellers causing terror and anxiety. The assault continued for more than half an hour during which time they caused substantial damage to Christian homes.
Many women on hearing the attack fled to a local home that was secure at the end of their alleyway where they locked themselves in for safety. Their men wer all away at work at the time. But the rampaging mob was intent on shaming and defiling the Christans. They broke down the doors of trhe home in which the women were staying safe grabbed the attractive women and young girls and threatened to rape them as they licked, fondled and indecently assualted them. They began to beat the women vigirously and stripped some naked until the neighbouring Muslims who interact with the Chrstians came out and stopped the men explaining that police had been called. At this point the mob began to vanish but the brutal attack had already exacted a heavy toll on local Christians.
Frightened women ran through this tight community alleyway and locked themselves in a house that was later broken into by the mob.
Mangta Masih (32 yrs) one of the injured victims, spoke wth BACA, he said: "In a surge of anger, the mob attacked my home.
“They broke the main door of my house.
"We locked in our women and younger girls but the mob broke the doors and grabbed the women.
"When I tried to resist them, one of the men grabbed me from behind and the other attacked me with a sickle blade.
"I tried to block the attack with my arm but the sickle blade which was aimed at my head cut off the thumb of right hand”
The culprits have savagely beaten the men, women and children of the small Christian enclave. One woman Naeem Bibi (34 yrs) was shot with a pistol which has injured her chest and right leg. Many of the victims have had to pay hospital fees for treatment they cannot afford.
Mangta Masih filed an application against the perpetrators at Saddar Police Station, Okara under FIR No. 509/21. However, he does not believe the Police are very interested in taking action, he said:
“Eight of the culprits have been granted pre-arrest bails by the court and not one arrest has been to date despite the severe injuries and financial loss suffered by our small Christian community."
Muhammad Ashraf, a local Muslim resident, and an eye witness of the attack explained his sorrow at what had happened, he said:
“Christians have lived in this village for generations.
"They are poor and work hard receiving small daily wages.
"Many of the neighbouring Muslims pleaded with the culprits to stop the brutality but the incensed men wreaked such havoc to these poor christian families.
"We have been shocked by the incident."
Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for the British Asian Christian Association, said:
"Unprovoked attack like this on Christian communities are quite usual.
"In most cases all Muslims join in after it is alleged that a blasphemy has occured.
"In this particular incident however the neighbouring Muslims showed solidarity with the Christians, mainly because there was no allegation of a slight against Islam.
"Without their rapid help I believe some of the Christian women in this community would have been publicly raped and injuries would have been worse if not fatal.
"The police response time was woeful and we now must wait to see if their actions post-incident will yield a better result."
British Asian Christian Association would like to help families in the community with help towards the costs paid for hospital treatment and ongoing medical expenses. We would also like to pay for restoration of the damaged homes and for a solicitor to ensure that the perpetrators of the attack are brought to justice.