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Police aid Muslim perpetrators seize Christians’ land in Pakistan

Armed Muslim landlords attacked a Catholic family as they were harvesting their crop in Punjab Province, Pakistan.

Yousaf Masih acquired the 10.6-acre parcel on lease from the Pakistani government in 1989. His family invested hard work and a lot of money in cultivating the farmland. Muslim landlords became jealous and started various threats to drive the Christians away and seize their land. The lease amount has increased significantly in the recent years and the family could no longer afford to keep up with the payments. Government officials ordered them to pay 3.5 million rupees  – the equivalent of US$13,000 – to retain the land; 2.1 million rupees – US$7,300 – upfront and the remaining amount in instalments. 

The Muslim landlords convinced the local commissioner to put the Christian family’s land in an auction. The family filed an injunction order against the proposed auction with the Lahore High Court, and got approved. 

According to Yousaf: “It was not easy to gather such a big amount on such short notice, yet we sold all our valuable possessions to pay the lease amount within the given deadline. Despite the court’s order, the assistant commissioner leased the land in the name of Atif Ali, the son of Babar Ali. We came to know of this shadowy auction a week later when police and revenue department officials arrived on the site and destroyed the fodder that we had cultivated for our cattle. We pleaded with them to stop and even showed them the court’s order, but they refused to listen to us. During this time, we were continuously harassed and threatened by police officials and henchmen of the landlords to vacate the land.”

Following the constant threats, the Christian family called the police helpline, however, the police invaded their home instead of going after the perpetrators. They damaged several household items and detained Yousaf’s daughter for hours. 

Yousaf stated: “We have no experience of legal matters, as we only focused on our agricultural work and never got involved in fights with others. But in the last few months, we have realized that we are not equals in the eyes of the law.”

He was working on his fields in mid-April when armed Muslims attacked and started beating him. Yousaf recalled the incident: “Seeing the commotion, my two brothers and both sisters ran towards me to save me from the attack, but the attackers targeted them as well, resulting in several bone fractures and other injuries to all of us. However, when we went to the town for medical treatment, the Muslims returned to the fields, harvested our wheat crop and stole the entire produce. When we reached the police station and told them what had happened in our absence, the officer on duty refused to register our complaint and said that our plight will end only when we surrender to the demand of the Muslim landowners. It seems that the entire system is working against us. After much efforts and pleading, we finally got our medical reports, but the police delayed the registration of an FIR [First Information Report] for 10 days. Our FIR was registered on April 25, but the police made no effort to arrest the accused persons. We desperately need help and support from our Christian leadership, as there’s no one else we can turn to in this very difficult time.”



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