London: Incited by religious hatred and Islamist fundamentalism, a Muslim neighbour mercilessly shot a mother and her son in Kathor Kalan village, Gujranwala Pakistan.
As they were shot dead the murderers called them kaffir (derogatory name for non-Muslims) and shouted out Choora (derogatory word meaning dirty Christians).
The dispute was a long-running feud over the fact that sewage water from the Christian home passed by a Muslim Shrine. A situation that the Christian family were not responsible for.
On Monday, November 9th, a trivial dispute turned into a brutal murder of a Christian mother Yasmeen Bibi (55 yrs) and her only son Usman Masih (25 yrs) by a bigoted Muslim neighbour Hassan Shakoor Butt.
It is believed the murder was stoked by a two-day previous argument Yasmeen had with the mother of the murderer, Ishrat Bibi (55 yrs). Apparently Ishrat blocked the open drain coming from the house of Yasmeen by putting some mud into the drainage line. Ishrat's reason for doing this was to prevent the wastewater from the house of 'untouchable' Christians which were hurting the fundamentalist principles of Ishrat. It should be noted that the Masih family is the only Christian household in the village.
The crux of the issue was the fact that water from the open sewage channel passed by a Christian home before reaching an important local Muslim shrine under the auspices of the butt family. After this the same water then travelled toward the Butt family home and Isharat and her son Shakoor and other family members felt that the ritual impurity of Christians defiled the water, the sanctity of their home and the purity of the religious shrine.
Ishrat moved to the area around two years ago from Basti Qudratabad, Wazirabad, to be closer to other family members and joined them in protecting the shrine. She immediately took offence from the presence of the Masih family and began to regularly block their drainage gulley. The block resulted in flooding and an unhealthy stench and the Christian continually cleared the block to the chagrin of the Butt family.
To reach an amicable solution the Masih family organised a panchayat (meeting of elders of all faiths) on Saturday 7th November 2020 and the gathered leaders agreed with the Masih family that the gulley should be free of blockage for everyone's safety. However, this did not sit well with Ishrat and her fuming family and only days later they got into an argument with the Masih family.
On the day of the shooting, Ishrat stood outside the home of Yasmeen and began hurling abuse while waving a wooden stick in her hand menacingly. Yasmeen exited her home to uncover what all the clamour was about and Ishrat took this opportunity to start beating Yasmeen with her stick. She called her a Christian dog, a Choora (derogatory term used by Muslims against Christians) and then in a fit of rage, her son Hassan who came out with his gun and without uttering a word, shot the mother 14 times using a 30 calibre pistol and a series of magazines. Yasmeen was killed on the spot.
Shabeer Masih, husband of Yasmeen, told us what happened next, he said:
“My son Usman rushed to the aid of his mother but was also shot dead by the bloodthirsty Hassan.
"While he laid dying for about 20 minutes no one came forward to help.
"The crowd in fear watched him die.”
Usman had two young daughters the eldest who was three years saw her father dying. While breathing his last breath Usman held the hand of his wife and his hapless father who was crying for help.
Widow of Usman, Mariyam (22 yrs) and his children with father Bashir Masih (57 yrs).
Police were called about 10 minutes later by the uncle of Usman who himself had travelled from another local village, after being informed of the deaths by a Muslim neighbour. The Police responded quickly arrived in 30 minutes and arrested Ishrat and her son Hassan.
On 10th November 2020, hundreds of Christians and representatives of civil society gathered to attend the funeral of Yameen and Usman. On the same day, an First Information Report (FIR) No. 635/20 was filed at Ahmad Nagar Police Station, Gujranwala.
In April this year Ishrat Bibi was granted bail by Lahore Sessions Court, after initially failing with an application to the Tehsil (town) Court Wazirabad.
"Usman and my mother-in-law were brutally killed because our neighbours said Christians are ritually unclean.
"They were murdered in broad daylight and my father-in-law and I are only alive because we were not outside with them.
"Every day the families of the murderers are telling us they are sorry for what has happened and telling us to accept their compromise payment.
"We cannot do that, our lives have been shattered and the blood of Usman and Yasmeen has been shed.
"We fear the murderers but want justice Ishrat and her son must be imprisoned to protect others from their violence.
"I have to care for my children without my husband the years ahead will be difficult, but I trust God for his protection."
Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for British Asian Christian Association, said:
"The very fact that a neighbour is bold enough to shoot dead a Christian family in the streets over a drainage dispute is illustration of the diminishing rule of law in Pakistan.
"Christians are anathema in most of the communities where they reside, the majority Muslims view them as demonic.
"A strange belief that the ritual impurity of Christians can be carried in water has embedded in the minds of Pakistani Muslims.
"This fear of spiritual contamination has resulted in the murder of many Christians and these extrajudicial murders show no signs of dissipating.
"Britain has made a decision to reduce it's foreign aid budget and I sincerely hope Pakistan is one country that feels the impact of this reduction.
"Years of British funding in Pakistan have only served to make the nation more intolerant and thus it can be said our aid has contributed to the current nadir in minority human rights."
The family have a legal advocate supported by local churches and have asked British Asian Christian Association to assist with the cost of travel to court and if possible financial support to cover the lost wages of breadwinner Usman, as they are now struggling to support themselves. They have asked for support of £100 a month for at least a year - if we can raise it and additional help towards the costs for their various travels to court. If you have been moved by this story you can hep us raise the funds necessary to support this family).
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