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Christian worker beaten and shot in the leg for requesting wages

42-year-old farm worker, Waqas Masih, resided in Chak No. 8 Panj Garaiyan Kamalpur village in Faisalabad District, Punjab Province, was beaten and shot when asking for his wages to purchase clothes for his two children for Easter celebrations.

The Muslim farm owners attacked the Catholic man when he asked for his rightful wages and they continued beating him with iron rods whilst he was lying on the ground, suffering from his bullet wound.

Masih’s brother, Askash witnessed the whole incident: “The two men first brutally tortured Waqas with the iron rods, and then Luqman pulled out a pistol and opened fire on him, resulting in a bullet injury on his right thigh. We were able to take him to the Allied Hospital in Faisalabad on time, otherwise he could have died due to excessive bleeding. We are very poor, and a majority of the nearly 300 Christian families living in the village work as laborers for Muslim landowners. We are often subjected to cruelty and torture because we are weak and helpless. In December, my father, brother Waqas and his wife were attacked in our home when he requested his employers to pay his wages for Christmas.”

The family intended to sell their house and move from the village, but their landlords insisted on entrapping them in bonded labour, despite the fact that they had repaid their 150,000-rupee (the equivalent of US$ 540) loan. 

According to Askash: “My brother has paid 70,000 Pakistani Rupees [US$252] in excess to the loan amount, but even then they are deducting money from his wages. They have intentionally trapped us in this debt bondage to keep us from leaving their work. Neither of the two accused have been arrested, while on the other hand, we are being warned against raising the issue. In such circumstances, there’s little hope for justice for us. I appeal to the police to give us justice and protect us from further exploitation by the landlords. This is our only demand to the government.”

The police filed a First Information Report (FIR) against the two perpetrators, but they were released on bail shortly afterwards. 

Waqas Masih is recovering at home, however, due to the fact he is unable to work, his family is struck by poverty even more. Costs and the lack of resources create a huge obstacle for Christians to fight for justice in Pakistan. 

Former Punjab Minister for Minorities Ejaz Alam Augustine – a Christian affiliated with the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz – stated: “A majority of Christians are poor, working-class people and consider their minority status as an exacerbator of their poverty. They are not confident about attaining justice and, unfortunately, the law also hasn’t really taken ownership of them. Rule of law and speedy justice are a prerequisite for any civilized society. Perpetrators of violence, especially when the victims belong to vulnerable communities, must be dealt with sternly in accordance with the law.”


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