Christian residents of Youhanabad hold a protest outside St. John's Church in Karachi against police raids on May 13. (Photo by Noman Gill/ucanews.com)
Fear and panic has swept through a Christian slum in Pakistan's port city of Karachi after more than a dozen youths were rounded up by police in a series of pre-dawn raids, residents say.
The raids took place in the Gulishan-e-Iqbal area of Karachi during the past month.
"Four men in police uniforms and plain clothes forced their way into our house by breaking the room lock with a cutter at 5 a.m.," Sumera Khurram, 26, a nurse, told ucanews.com.
"They first told us that they wanted to verify identity cards and then took my brother away without producing any arrest warrant."
She had gone to the police station where her brother was taken, but was not allowed to him.
"I appeal to the chief justice, the Sindh government and authorities to take notice of the illegal police action," she said, denying a police claim that her brother was involved in criminal activities.
A teenage boy, Akash Masih, who was released on bail after three days of detention, said that he was subjected to brutal torture.
"I was electrocuted, beaten up and repeatedly asked to confess that I was involved in street crimes," he told media representatives.
The teenager said he had no idea where he was held during the interrogation.
Noman Gill, 22, told ucanews.com that his brother was among 14 arrested by police.
"My brother has no criminal record," Gill said.
"He too was taken away in a pre-dawn raid by the police.
"Police have lodged a fake case of recovery of pistol against him and others."
A lawyer has been hired to contest police claims and file a bail application, Gill told ucanews.com.
He added that some Christian families were so frightened they had stopped sending their children to school.
On May 13, dozens of men, women and children staged a protest at St. John's Church to demand an end to police raids.
"We want justice. Free our loved ones and stop illegal raids," the protesters chanted.
In a statement, police said they had busted a gang of street criminals.
Police said in one instance a patrol had apprehended four suspects who were trying to escape after carrying out a robbery and that weapons were recovered.