Mangta Masih lost his thumb when a mob attacked his house, a day after Catholic youths were beaten in a Muslim-majority village in Okara district of Punjab province in Pakistan.
“We hid our women inside while they tried to break in. One of them grabbed me from behind and another struck with a sickle blade. I tried to prevent the blow with my right hand. I fell down and they kept beating us with batons,” the 45-year-old laborer told the source.
“They were armed with glass bottles, stones, axes, batons and bricks. Others used stairs to climb to our roofs and started breaking our furniture. We pleaded to spare the women but the attack continued for half an hour.”
Fear has gripped 80 Christian families of Chak 5 village after a mob of more than 200 Muslims raided their dwellings on May 15. Masih, not a surname but used to identify a male Pakistani as a Christian, is one of eight Christians with fractured bones. The local deputy superintendent of police visited the site on May 16 and assured locals of registering a first information report under Section 452 (house trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint).
Christian activists have been sharing disturbing footage of the attack in Faisalabad Diocese on social media.
“They broke the locks, grabbed our hair and pulled us out one by one. Young girls were assaulted and left with torn clothes,” stated a woman lying among the pile of wounded villagers with fractured bones.
According to Father Khalid Mukhtar, parish priest of St. Thomas Catholic Church in Chak 5, the attack was sparked following a May 14 attack on Catholic youngsters.
“The boys were cleaning the church when one of the Muslim landlords, passing by the church, accused them of throwing dust on him. They attacked the boys and then raided 15 houses of our community the next day,” said the priest.
“The weakness on the part of the administration encourages such attacks on religious minorities. The culprits are usually let off scot-free. Religion is used to settle personal scores. The locals fear another attack.”
Father Mukhtar conducted a meeting of parish committee members on May 16 at St. Thomas Church, gathered statements of the injured and filed a complaint at the local police station.
In a Facebook post, Father Khalid Rashid Asi, director of the Diocesan Commission for Harmony and Interfaith Dialogue in Faisalabad Diocese, termed it an act of terrorism. Pastor Irfan James condemned the recent attacks.
“A famous televangelist, visiting abroad, told foreign news agencies that he loves Muslims and Muslims love him. I wish someone would make such love to him. We face persecution in Pakistan every day. This is our reality,” he said.
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