Pressure on Catholic family to rob them of house and property
by William Gomes
Muslim groups have shot at the house and have built a wall to expropriate the land, while the police fails to intervene. "Allah Akbar" in place of the cross. Other Christian families have had to leave the area.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - A Catholic family in the parish of St. Lawrence is receiving threats and being shot at to force it to abandon the area so the house and surrounding land can be taken.

On 22 October around 19.30, a group of local Muslims fired several gunshots at the house of the family of Sunil Gomes. Two weeks earlier, on October 8, 150 Muslims invaded the home of Gomes family and under the threat of violence annexed part of the garden building a dividing wall. Mrs. Rita Gomes, the eldest daughter of Sunil (pictured), who tried to stop them, was beaten. Everything happened in front of the detached gaze of the police, who did not intervene. The Muslim group has removed the plaque with the name of the Gomes family and a small cross and put in its place a plaque with the inscription "Allah Akbar" (God is great).

Ms Gomes said that the attacks were instigated by some Muslim neighbours, particularly the Kazi family, who along with other Muslims in the neighbourhood have been trying for over a year to expel the Catholics from their home.

Some time ago other Catholic families in the same neighbourhood have suffered the same fate and emigrated to India.  

Mrs. Gomes told AsiaNews that the Muslim neighbours "have been pushing us to sell the house for a long time." But the family includes very old and sick parents who could not endure a forced relocation.

"Because we are Christians - says Ms Gomes, - nobody comes to help us. Muslims have wealth and power from the political point of view. They have strong links with the ruling party, the Awami League".

Rita Gomes is the eldest daughter of the family. She has a younger sister, Jhuma who will soon enter a convent.

Seizures of land and houses are very common in Bangladesh. The victims are usually members of ethnic religious and tribal minorities. The parish of St. Lawrence in Dhaka  is home to over 1000 Catholic families.