Situation for Christians in Khushab calms down after police involvement
Christian villagers have been facing threats of a possible attack from local Muslims amid amplified tensions between them.
Details have emerged that Christians in villages number 36, 37 and 38 located in Division Quaid Abad of District Khushab are imperilled as they anticipate retaliatory action from Muslims.
The clashes begun after local Christian boy Sunil Masih (24) eloped with Muslim girl Shazia Parveen (16). Soon after news of the incident spread, local Muslims started demanding the return of Shazia.
According to the facts, Maria and Jacob Masih alias Vicky, are the parents of Sunil who came from Faisalabad and settled in the village of Khushab some 10-15 years ago.
Jacob is a drug addict and does not work. Maria is a Lady Health Visitor (LHV) nurse and runs a private clinic at home. She is the sole earner of the house and often visits people in the remote areas near her village to provide medical health care. As time moved on she continued her work and developed good relations with people in the nearby villages. Mohammad Suleman (Shazia’s father) developed close relations with Maria and despite living in separate villages they started paying visits to each others’ homes just like relatives.
On September 2, 2017 Maria along with her family went to Mohammad Suleman’s house to attend his niece’s wedding. Since they came from another village, Maria had to stay the night at Mohammad Suleman’s house with her family. The next morning when everyone woke up to get ready for the function, Mohammad Suleman found that Maria and her family, along with his daughter Shazia, were not at home.
They started searching for them and went out in the neighborhood to look for them but did not find them. As they were searching for them in the nearby villages, and during the investigation by the Muslims, the Christians were scared of dire consequences and the news spread like wildfire.
On September 06, 2017 Mohammad Suleman went to the local police station Quaid Abad to register a complaint about his missing daughter. The police registered a case for kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her into marriage, against Sunil Masih.
The complainant also mentioned two eye witnesses in the FIR namely Syed Rasool and Mohammad Hussain who told them that they saw Maria and her family with Shazia getting into a white car and took her away. After registration of the FIR the local police raided Maria’s house but she and her family fled the scene.
Christian villagers are being threatened and pressurized by the Muslim majority to call the eloped couple back. Now the Christians are calling upon the authorities to provide them with protection.
During a visit CLASS’s team met with local Christians, Mr. Javed Bhatti District coordinator of Pakistan Christian National Party Khushab, and Pastor Wilson John, Church of Pakistan. The team also met with the local residents, visited the concerned police station and collected the FIR (First Information Report).
The District Police Officer’s PSO (police support officer) Inspector Imtiaz has deployed heavy contingents and an elite force in front of Maria’s house for their security.
The team found that the situation has calmed down and local Christians are not in danger anymore as the police have controlled the situation and assured that they will curb any unfavourable circumstances.
Shazia has recorded her statement in favour of Sunil under section 164 Cr.pc before the Magistrate Court in which she stated that she was not abducted by anyone and got married under Islamic rights of her free will.
Marrying a Christian girl is always appreciated and hailed in Pakistani Muslim society, but if any Muslim girl marrys a Christian man, it becomes a matter of honour and is considered an intolerable act and even a religious issue, which always has perilous repercussions from the Muslim community. The Christian families always have to face humiliation by the police and local community and sometimes even the whole local Christian community comes under attack, as has happened in this case.