From VOP Christians (Facebook)
In consistency with details, forty Christian families in Toba Tek Singh are being harassed by the local Muslims as a result of a 17 year old Muslim girl Rabia elopement with a 20 year old Christian boy Azeem. The Muslim neighbours and landlords in their vengeance are refusing to hire local Christians for daily chores in their fields. What’s more, the enraged Muslim community has charged the local Christians of gang rape.
As stated by a local activist,” The Christians families risk starvation.”
According to details, Azeem eloped with Rabia on the evening of July 27. Both were residents of Chak (village) 375 JB, district Toba Tek Singh, about 15 kilometres from Gojra.
Chak 375 JB comprises of about 40 Christian families and 500 Muslim families. As a norm arranged marriages are still usually the rules with rural communities in Pakistan, young couples often elope. However, this incident is not parallel to an of such ordinary cases as it has evoked religious sentiments causing nuisance to local Christian families in the village.
As soon as the news of their run off spread masses came out onto the road and started firing. They subsequently, made a frenzied search for the missing couple in the fields and then returning to the houses of local Christians. The mob stormed in their houses and threatened the Christians that,” They would take their all young women along with them to humiliate them. Moreover, they would set their houses on fire and banish them all from the village.”
The mob then resorted to take along Azeem’s three sisters, and their mother as revenge. ”They hit the door with the butts of their guns and forcibly entered in the house. They started beating my father and called us names,” 18-year-old sister said. Then they dragged two of Azeem’s sisters out of the house and took them to a farmhouse.
“Dozens of men were present there. They hurled abuse at us but when some men started indecently touching us, a few of the elderly men objected to it, so they refrained from sexually assaulting us,” added the younger sister.
“We remained tied there until the next day without food and water,” she said.“The following day, a village council (panchayyat) decided that the Christian girls would be returned to the family, and in exchange Rabia would return to her father. The council also decided that Azeem would no more live in the village. Whereas, Azeem’s father agreed to all these conditions,” witnesses report.
However, despite an apparent settlement the Muslim group then registered a petition in the court for the registration of a case alleging that,” Azeem and four of his family members had forcibly abducted Rabiaand gang raped her.”
Aware of the seriousness of threats, the local Christians filed a petition before the Toba Tek Singh Additional Sessions judge and requested an order to the police of Saddar Police Station to register an FIR against the Muslim group for threatening to kill them. The judge issued an order instantly, directing the police to register a case against named group.
“Ever since, the police have been striving for a compromise deal between the Christians and the Muslim group. Even if the legal matter was resolved, the social boycott still continued. Almost all the Christians are poor and illiterate, and are hired by the Muslim landlords in their fields on a daily wage. They are also facing a shortage of food because of the boycott,” said Munir Gill, a social activist of the village