Friday, December 2, 2011

Muslims In Pakistan Beat, Shoot At Christians In Land Grab

12/1/2011 Pakistan (CDN) - In an attempted land-grab in southern Punjab Province, police and cohorts of a retired military official beat two Christian women and shot at Christians who came to help them on Friday (Nov. 25), area Christians told Compass.

About eight police officials led by Sub-Inspector Muhammad Arif of Kot Sarwar Shaheed police station, along with armed associates of a retired senior military officer, Air Marshal Maqbool Shah, arrived at the fields of Nazeer Masih in the Kot Addu area and ordered the six or seven women working there to leave, said area Christian rights advocate Waseem Shakir. The women included Nazeer’s wife, Martha Bibi, and daughter-in-law, Nasreen Bibi.

The men told the workers that they had come to take possession of the 12.5 acres that Nazeer Masih owns in Mauza Sadiqabad area of Muzaffargarh district, which they claimed had now been allotted by the Revenue Department to the Pakistan Army for distribution among retired officials.

Martha Bibi told Compass the women were still in shock.
“We were cultivating chickpeas when the Muslims arrived at our fields,” she said. “They asked us to leave everything and never return because it was their land now. [We said] we have been cultivating the land since 1976, how could we just leave? This angered them, and they attacked us. They pulled away our headscarves from our heads and started hitting us indiscriminately with clubs and punches.”

About 800 Christians have lived in the Mauza Sadiqabad and Mauza Azizabad areas of Muzaffargarh district for the last 50 years, rights advocate Shakir told Compass by phone.

“The Christians are settled on 10,000 acres of land which they made cultivable over the years,” he said. “The land is actually owned by the government, but the Christians have been given ownership of the properties, and the record to this effect is present with the local revenue department.”

In the last few years Muslims have made several attempts to seize the land from the Christians, usually succeeding because Christians are a marginalized minority, while Muslims carry out illegal activities with impunity and official blessing, Shakir said. A similar attempt to take possession of Nazeer Masih’s land was made last year, resulting in a pending case in the Lahore High Court.

Gulzar Masih said that the entire revenue department was involved in tampering with property documents of Christians to render them landless.

“It is economic persecution of Christians of the area,” he said. “The government must intervene before it’s too late(Source).”

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