On 21 April, Pastor Haroon Cheeda, his wife Mariam and their 15-year-old son Asher were attacked by their Muslim neighbour.
Rafique Bhatti, a police officer and his companions, attacked the family for attempting to build a wall on their own land. According to Pastor Haroon, Bhatti has illegally built a house on the family’s land and intends to take the land by force. He and another police officer, Basharat, have been threatening the pastor for some time.
Pastor Haroon lives in a small village along with 25 other Christian families. Pastor Haroon purchased the land around 12 years ago.
The perpetrators claim the land belongs to them, therefore Pastor Haroon is not the legal owner, so they cannot allow him to build a wall on the land.
Pastor Haroon, his wife and son were severely injured in the assault. They were attacked with machetes, sticks and pistols.
Some members of the community intervened to stop the assault and an ambulance took the family to Sheikh Zaid Hospital, Rahim Yar khan, where they received treatment. Mariam received several stitches to her head; Asher’s shoulders were severely injured and both arms have been affected. Pastor Haroon likewise required medical treatment.
A case has been registered at the local police station, but nobody has been arrested. According to Pastor Haroon, Bhatti and his companions are very powerful.
Pakistani Christians are widely persecuted by society. Persecution often comes at the hands of family members, radical Islamic groups and the government.
Sources: Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement, The Voice of the Martyrs USA
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