A Christian man and his family were compelled to flee their home in Wazirabad, Pakistan after an enraged mob accused them of having committed blasphemy.
According to British Pakistani Christian Association, the accused, 40-year-old Aftab Gill, and his family, who hail from Wazirabad in Punjab Province, regularly collected water from a tap at the local mosque, as it happens to be the only source of clean water in the area. On August 14, however, Gill was told by a group of Muslim men that he could no longer use the tap unless he converted to Islam.
“You Christians are not allowed to take water from the mosque,” the man told Gill. “If you want to drink our water, you must embrace Islam and pray regularly inside the mosque. Otherwise evil infidels defile our water taps.”
The same morning, Gill’s sons, 5-year-old Adnan and 12-year-old Akash, had been approached by a 18-year-old Muslim lad, Zain Shah, who allegedly coaxed the two children to convert to Islam but Adnan and Akash refused to comply. Reportedly, Shah along with a group of Muslim men approached the two boys a few days later and once again demanded them to renounce their Christian faith. When Akash stepped up and refused to do so, Shah slapped and beat him.
As a witness to the incident, Gill intervened, saying, “You failed to convert Baba Guru Nanak [Founder of Sikh faith] so why pursue converting my children who follow the true and living God?”
Shah and his accomplices then went on to beat Gill as well as his sons, until the local police were called to intervene and disperse the crowd. Subsequently, Shah herded a mob of more than 200 Muslim men and proceeded towards Gill’s house to lynch the Christian family. However, timely police intervention ensured that all members escaped unharmed.
Threatened by this incident, elders of the Christian community met with the local Muslim cleric, who assured them that necessary steps would be taken to prevent any religious tension in Wazirabad. However, the cleric also suggested that Gill and his family should leave town, as that would serve their best interest. Honouring the cleric’s advice, Gill fled his hometown with the rest of his family, leaving behind only his mother, Bashiran Bibi, to take care of the family home.
“Life for Christians in Pakistan is now worse than ever. We are attacked daily and treated worse than rats. Muslims do not want us as their neighbours because they believe we are evil and have satanic diseases,” Bibi told BPCA. “My son and his family came close to death and we were all terrified when the mob came to our house. I prayed to God for His protection and by His grace we have survived, but now my children are far away from me and I am very lonely. My tears are constant.”
Even though the growing religious tensions started to settle as soon as Gill left town, BPCA chairman, Wilson Chowdhury, warned that such tensions could erupt at any time, since the tap at the mosque continues to be the only source of clean water in the area. BPCA recently launched an appeal for donations that will help install another tap for clean water in the area. Chowdhury explained that once the organization collects the required $853, it would install a tap at the local church, from where the area’s persecuted minority can start drawing water on a daily basis.
BPCA officer, Shamim Masih, said in a statement:
“Finding clean drinking water is a problem for many other Christian communities in Pakistan, not just the Railway Colony of Wazirabad. Living near any mosque for a Christian family in a Muslim dominated country like Pakistan could be dangerous at any time. I had a very similar experience when I was living in Rawalpindi and we had a rented house near a mosque. Normally during hot summers, water levels dropped and we faced a shortage of water. People used to collect water from the nearby mosque, paying them a small fee. I was forced to do the same and we happily paid our contribution until one day, the cleric came to know that we are from the Christian faith. Immediately, the local cleric stopped us from taking water from the mosque, which caused us great difficulty.”
Since Gill and his family were made to flee their home in Wazirabad and seek accommodation in a neighbouring village, BPCA has also promised to help pay for their rent and food for the first six months.
“We hope that through the generosity of our donors we can illustrate the love of God to this hurting family,” Chowdhry wrote.
Photo Credits: Christian Post