11/04/2021, 17.17
PAKISTAN
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Muslims fire at Christians in Burewala to seize their lands

by Shafique Khokhar

At least nine people are wounded, three hospitalised in critical conditions. The attackers have not been arrested. In Trikhani, Christian families have repeatedly refused to sell the lands given to their ancestors by missionaries.

 

Burewala (AsiaNews) – A group of Muslims attacked and fired at Christians in order to seize their lands in Trikhani, a village near the city of Burewala, Vehari district (Punjab). At least nine people were wounded, three hospitalised in critical condition.

On 29 October, Muslims started shooting at Christians as they watered their fields. After the latter filed a First Information Report (FIR) with police, the attackers, who had obtained pre-arrest bail, continued to threaten the Christians, demanding they drop the FIR.

"They wanted to kill us,” said Raja Masih. “They fired straight at us, so I got a bullet that almost hit me in the heart".

Kamran Masih, a resident of the village and an eyewitness to the incident, explained that Muslim landowners demanded local Christians to sell their land. Uttering threats, they told them if they refused, they would face “serious consequences".

This is not new. Local Christians have already resisted selling their land in the past because “they are the history and legacy of our ancestors" and allow families to earn a living.

The village was originally founded by missionaries and farmland was donated to the poorest families, who handed it down through the generations.

“In any case, the Muslim offers do not reflect the real market value of the fields," Masih told AsiaNews.

Human rights activist Saleem Iqbal, who visited the injured in hospital in Sahiwal, expressed his regret over the affair. “It is sad to see how Muslim landowners use their influence to target Christians.”

Ashiknaz Khokhar, also an activist for the Christian minority, noted that this “is the second attack of this kind in Sahiwal. In the village of Okara, two brothers were killed and several Christians wounded from gunshots over irrigation.”

“It is frustrating,” he added, “to see, on the one hand, Christians fighting for their survival and, on the other, the culprits on the loose, pre-released on bail without being arrested.”

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