Pakistan

KASUR – In a shocking incident, a landlord in Kasur has set a house of Christian family on fire for refusing to abandon the home and ‘give it away’ to him.

The incident took place on January 23rd when accused Basharat Ali son of Ahmad Din forcefully entered into the house of Rehmat Masih and set the house on fire while his daughter and granddaughter were sleeping.

The accused along with four unknown persons also allegedly gang-raped Basharat Ali’s daughter Sajida, four months ago.

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Rehmat Masih, in an FIR filed in Sadar police station, stated that Basharat Ali was threatening him and his family for not abandoning the home and conceding it to him for months. He alleges that his daughter was also gang-raped for refusing to comply with his demands.

The complainant also sustained serious injuries while extinguishing the fire.

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However, Christian rights activist Napolean Qayyum argues that it was an open violation of the law that the police deliberately didn’t register the FIR under sections of the rape.

“Though it has been mentioned in the FIR that she was raped, the police didn’t register it under its respective sections of PPC,” Qayyum held. “This is just to protect the criminals,” he added.

Talking to Daily Pakistan, Sajida said that she was gang-raped months ago and was being pressurised to keep silent over the matter. “They used to threaten me for not listening to them. They used to ask me for my earrings of gold and harass me,” Sajida said adding that Basharat Ali, along with three other men torched her house while she was sleeping with his daughter.

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Sajida with her husband Lal Masih and daughter

“My daughter woke me up when she saw those men torching our home. The house kept smouldering for two days.”

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Sajida says that the police is complying with the accused influential landlords. “Police and Basharat Ali are searching for me for reconciliation and settlement and threatening to kill us if we approach the court,” Sajida claimed.

“I am an uneducated woman, I don’t know about legal procedures, I want justice and I don’t want any kind of settlement with them,” she held.

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When contacted, Sub-inspector Muhammad Aslam initially denied that any such FIR had been registered. Even though Sajida denies any kind of reconciliation, Aslam claimed that the matter has reached the settlement.

“We didn’t mention the sections for rape because it never took place, she was lying and she admitted it,” said Aslam in his acrimonious tone, adding the house caught fire through a burning cigarette.

Aslam claimed that the accused persons were very religious and did not do the act.

The four accused persons, including Basharat Ali and Manna Khan have not been arrested yet the police claim that the dispute has reached a settlement despite the fact that Sajda is still homeless and demanding justice.

Talking to Daily Pakistan, human rights activist and son of the slain Governor Salman Taseer, Shaan Taseer said Christians are the most vulnerable group of people in Pakistan facing institutional poverty, ostracisation and religious discrimination.

“They are made more vulnerable by the fact that their communities exist on valuable land. The case of Rehmat Masih simply illustrates how social power structures and law enforcement conspire to persecute them with the intention of either converting them to the religion of peace or steal their land.”