Lawyers from Pakistan Center for Law and Justice meet Bashir Masih (left) and his wife in Bhgana village on Sept. 25. (Photo by Riaz Anjum)
A Pakistani Christian whose family and house were attacked by a mob in a village near Islamabad is pointing the finger at a former prime minister.
A gang of 12 men armed with pistols and batons assaulted Bashir Masih, 58, and his family before torching their house and vehicle in Bhgana village on Sept. 21. All of them have secured pre-arrest bail. Masih alleges that former PM Raja Pervaiz Ashraf is protecting the assailants.
"I was sleeping when they broke in. The women started screaming; they were stripped, slapped and abused. My 14 grandchildren were shoved against walls. A 2-year-old was repeatedly thrown on a bed. My wife has several broken fingers. My back still carries marks of torture," Masih, a retired sanitary worker, told ucanews.com.
"We were the only Christian family in the whole village. The brother of the former PM wanted to buy our house located on 10 marlas (253 square meters). We have been threatened by his men since last year but never expected such aggression. The local police are now favoring these drug dealers and land mafia. Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks of merit. I voted for his party. Now I demand justice."
The family are now living at the house of a local Muslim. Pakistan Center for Law and Justice (PCLJ) and a Lahore-based Christian NGO are providing them with free legal aid.
Napoleon Qayyum, executive director of PCLJ, fears they won't be able to return home.
"The sons of Masih work as car washers and sanitary workers. One of them fractured his nose in the attack. They cannot afford the enmity of wealthy politicians. We are focusing on a full investigation and trying to get his [Masih's] statement recorded by law enforcement agencies," said Qayyum.
"Both the new government and news channels are deliberately ignoring the case. Persecution against minorities is increasing with each passing day. At least four rape cases of Christian girls have occurred since last month."
Shaan Taseer, son of a slain Pakistani governor, termed it as "Christian genocide" in a Sept. 25 post on Facebook.
"I have spoken to the SHO (station house officer) and he has assured me the bail will be cancelled as these are non-bailable offenses. Please show your support for the police and help me in taking this case to the highest attention to ensure justice for Bashir Masih," he stated.
Ashraf, who was PM from June 2012 to March 2013, has denied that his brother was involved in the attack.