Lahore: A 16 year old Christian girl was forcibly abducted from her own home while her grandmother and sisters tried to prevent the gang of Muslim men who entered their house from enacting the crime.
At around 11.30 am, Monday, 9th August, Muqadas Nadeem Masih (16 yrs) from Shorkot, Jhang, was abducted from her home in front of her family and other villagers by Muhammad Azeem Malik and two burly cohorts, all armed with pistols.
At the time Muqadass and her younger sister were working on household chores with their grandmother Sardara Bibi (75 yrs). Her parents Nadeem Masih (40 yrs) and Akhtar Parveen (40 yrs) were out of the home working. Parveen is a domestic cleaner for a local wealthy Muslim family and Nadeem works as a local government street cleaner on daily wages.
Suddenly and abruptly Mr Malik with two other men all armed with 32 calibre pistols, entered the house of the Christian family after kicking open their doors. Muhammad Azeem clutched Muqadas by her right arm and started dragging her out of the home. Her grandmother and younger sister Mehwish (14 yrs) rushed towards Muqadas to save her from the clutches of Mr Malik who shoved Sardara Bibi with great force, making her hit her head on the main door and she crumpled to the floor in pain from a bleeding gash on her head. Seeing her grandmother on the floor covered in blood and her sister being wrenched away by the three men Mehwish began to scream hysterically causing neighbours to come out of their homes to see what was causing such commotion in what is normally a peaceful neighbourhood of few homes.
Sardara Bibi spoke with British Asian Christian Association, she said:
“Malik Azeem came with two henchmen, they kicked the door open and entered our home.
"They grabbed Muqadas with great force and roughly began dragging her out while she kicked and screamed.
"I rushed to rescue her with my other grand-daughter we had no strength against the brutal men.
"Azeem pushed me with great force and my head hit a door I was dazed, bleeding and in so much pain.
"The men began beating my other grand daughters who were trying to help.
"Muqadas was screaming for help but the men just carried her away we could do nothing to stop them.”
Because of the timing of the abduction most of locals in the few homes in the area (around 5 homes) were women, as the men had started work. Tthe women shouted for the release of Muqadas but were too afraid to attempt to free her. Two local Christian men, Ismail Masih and Gulzar Masih however, were called and they rushed to rescue Muqadas but before they could reach close enough to attempt a rescue Mr Malik had pushed Muqadas forcefully into his van and had sped away in his vehicle.
Mehwish called her parents and informed them about the kidnapping of her Muqadas and Nadeem Masih immediately stopped his work and rushed home. After hearing what had happened from his family and many eye witnesses he went to the house of Mr Malik with his wife and brother to attempt to recover his daughter but despite vigorous knocking Mr Malik and his family did not open the door. Mr Masih then waited for an hour outside the home loudly pleading for the return of his daughter but was moved on by other neighbours of Mr Malik offended by his noise.
Mr Masih his wife and brother then travelled to Peer Mehal Police Station and sought police action to recover his daughter. Instead of helping him police told him to calm down and assured Mr Masih that they were sure his daughter would be returned to him in a few days. No attempt was made by police to register a crime of abduction and absolutely no investigation was initiated.
Nadeem Masih, spoke with British Asian Christian Association, he said:
"I cried out with all my soul beseeching with local police officers to help get my daughter back.
"They simply tried to calm me down and told me to wait three days as they were sure that my daughter would be returned within a few days.
"They seemed to think this was a simple elope by my daughter and did not believe a Muslim would kidnap her, despite the numerous witnesses that saw what happened.
“Mr Malik is rich and has powerful connections, I fear he has bribed local police and that they are protecting him by not taking any action against him”
With what little savings he had and a lot of borrowing Mr Masih sought the help of a solicitor, to get the courts to force Police to take action. An application was filed under section 22a of the Criminal Procedure Code. Under the Criminal Procedure (Third Amendment) Ordinance a Justice of the Peace can now order police to undertake a police investigation into a crime when they refuse to assist a citizen. Read more (here)
The family and friends of Muqadas were by this time reaching a peak in their anxiety and frustration and had been spending hours on their knees praying for the swift return of the young vulnerable Christian girl.
On the morning of 12th August, things got even more frenetic when Mr Masih found a marriage certificate for Muqadas Masih and Azeem Malik in the yard of his house. The family of Nadeem went through a debilitating shock as it struck home that their Godfearing child had been forcibly converted and married to her abductor. The marriage and conversion were both instituted at Jamia Rizvia Mazhar Islam Madrassa (an Islamic seminary) by Imam Muhammad Usman Ghani on 9th August, the same day that Muqadas was kidnapped before a village of witnesses.
Small steps towards justice. BACA officer helps Mr Masis Complete an application for registration of a First Incident Report (crime report).
On 13th August BACA team visited Nadeem Masih and his family, our team immediately escorted them to Peer Mehal Police Station and demanded an FIR be registered. On finding the family were supported by an NGO the police immediately accepted an application No.PM-8/13/2021-3936 which the father completed with the help of our team.
The next day BACA called the investigation officer Muhammad Nazim Ali who informed us that police had raided the house of Muhammad Azeem Malik twice but had thus far failed to recover the girl or the culprit.