Seven Christian families living in Kasur, Pakistan are left homeless after Muslims land grabbers bulldozed their houses, forcing them to evacuate under threat of death.
The watchdog group British Pakistani Christians Association (BPCA) reports that the Muslim men, identified as Shahid Khan, Jaffar Ali, Zafar Iqbal and Munir Bhatti showed the Christians forged documents, created with the help of local village accountant, forcing them to surrender their homes. If the Christians refused to comply with their demands, the Muslim men threatened to kill them, implicate them in local crimes, or accuse them of blasphemy-a serious criminal offense.
The BPCA reports that the families were ordered to watch as their belongings were thrown out into the road by the land grabbers. Then, the Muslims told the Christians they could only return home if they renounced their faith and converted to Islam.
Because they refused to deny their faith, the families, many of which have small children, were left displaced, facing the harsh winter season.
"They are living out in the open desperately need good accommodation. Christian neighbors are living in terror as they have received similar hate messages and threats and fear that they will be the next victims," the BPCA said.
The BPCA has created a fund for the victims of Kasur to buy them blankets and warm clothing, as well as purchase land and conduct a home building program that will also include clean water pumps and cleaning facilities.
If the group raises enough money, they hope to also hire a security team to protect the community, who will ensure all paperwork for the property is stored safely and registered with the Pakistan High Commission in London to prevent future disputes over property rights.
According to the International Land Coalition, the practice of land-grabbing is not new among the Muslim majority in Pakistan. However, over the past several years, the group has targeted Christians, a marginalized minority, with impunity and official blessing.
Last month, a Christian man was brutally stoned to death by a gang of grabbers in the town of Shah Allah Ditta. The man, who reportedly attempted to stop the attackers from taking the land from his family, sustained severe head injuries and died on the spot. Thus far, no arrests have been made in relation to the horrific incident.
Writes Catholic lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill, an activist for human rights, "I have seen many cases where influential Muslims are taking control of land belonging to Christian families in Punjab, with the complicity of the police. So powerful Muslim landowners and businessmen in Pakistan violate the rights of poor families and helpless religious minorities."
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, explained that Pakistan's unstable government is largely at fault for the growing problem.
"Inevitably Christians faced with the consequences of torture, rape of their wives and daughters, potential death or murder of a loved one, give up their property trusting God for their survival," he writes. "The ease within which property and land is usurped from Christians in Pakistan, is a poor indictment of the Governance in the country."