02/26/2013, 00.00
PAKISTAN

Punjab: Muslim attacks disabled Christian for money, police deny any investigation

by Shafique Khokhar
The 35 year-old Khalid Masih had agreed to witness to a trade – for free- at first welcomed by both parties. The next day the Muslim Irshad Gujjar demanded more money. On refusal, he avenged himself by ambushing Christian intermediary. The police refused his complaint and the criminals go unpunished.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) - "I want justice, but no one supports me to open an investigation or initiate investigations against my assailants." This is the cry of pain, dramatic and hopeless, of 35 year-old Christian Khalid Masih, a native of the district of Faisalabad, Punjab, victim of brutal violence, triggered by trivial economic issues. The police however are refusing to take the victim's statement, and three weeks on from the incident the criminals still go unpunished. As too often happens in Pakistan, when the victim is a Christian and his executioners belong to the Muslim majority and the violation of laws and rights takes place in complete indifference.

The case dates back to February 2, when the man, who is disabled and walks with the aid of crutches, was asked to act as a mediator - free of charge - in a trade that involved two people: the Christian Babar Masih, a cousin of Khalid, and the Muslim Irshad Gujjar. The first gave the second his mope head, in exchange for a horse. The next day Irshad wanted additional money, because his animal "is worth a lot more."

Khalid Masih (pictured) replied that was impossible to change the terms, because his cousin had left the village immediately after the deal. On February 6, Irshad Gujjar, with his cousin Aslam, went to Khalid's house and asked him to follow them, to go and pray at the bedside of their grandson who was very sick. The 35 year-old Christian usually earned small amounts of money praying for the poor and sick, so he did not suspect the trap.

They lead him to a distant field five kilometres from the village, dragged him from the car and stabbed him several times with a knife - injuring his hands and lips - then they shot his knee caps twice. Some farmers in the vicinity, including a Christian, heard the shots and called for help. The doctors of the Civil Hospital in Faisalabad stabilized Khalid's condition and after a few days, he recovered.

However, despite repeated appeals for justice, his assailants are at large and unpunished. "I am a poor Christian and pray for others - he tells AsiaNews - and all I am asking for is justice." The bitter comment of Fr. Aftab James Paul, director of the Diocesan Commission for Interreligious Dialogue, is that "the criminals wanted to make money illegally" from a poor man, who "deserves justice and should be assisted in all situations, including legal."

 

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