A Muslim landowner in a village of Punjab’s Khanewal district on Monday morning assaulted and killed a Christian farm labourer over suspicions of theft of his citrus crop.
As per the details, Emanuel Masih, 48, was allegedly beaten to death by Muhammad Waseem at around 3 am as the former irrigated the fields in Chak Number 139/10R village on Thattha Road.
Waseem, along with five other men, approached Masih and accused him of stealing oranges from their fields.
“He pled his innocence but the men started beating him up and ultimately killed him,” stated the FIR [First Information Report] of the incident.
Masih is survived by his wife and six children who are seeking justice for the sole breadwinner of their family.
While the landowner and two of his accomplices have been arrested, the incident is not the first of its kind as crimes against members of Pakistan’s vulnerable religious minorities witness a sharp increase owing to the wave of religious extremism and prejudice gripping the country.
VIOLENCE AGAINST MINORITIES
From extrajudicial killings over false allegations of blasphemy to forced conversion and marriages of underage minority girls, minority groups continue to face widespread persecution in Pakistan.
Political and religious leaderships belonging to minority communities have time and again voiced their concerns against these violations. However, it has brought little to no change in the lives of the people belonging to these vulnerable groups as they continue to live in fear amid legislation adding fuel to the fire of religious intolerance.
Just last month, a Christian in Okara city of Punjab was shot dead by a group of local influential Muslims for stopping them from stealing his crop after trespassing into his orchard.
According to a report, 55-year-old Allah Ditta confronted Usama, Muhammad Intizar and Muhammad Awais for destroying his orchard by repeatedly stealing guava produce. The report claimed that during the altercation, the trio allegedly called Allah Ditta a “chuhra” [a pejorative term used for Christians] with “no chance at justice” even if they killed him.
The victim’s son, Shahbaz Masih, who was accompanying his father in the field, said that it wasn’t later that Usama pulled out a gun on his father and shot him in the chest.
The report quoted Shahbaz as saying that he ran towards Allah Ditta after hearing the gunshot and found him lying unresponsive in a pool of blood as the assailants fled the scene, threatening to kill his family if he informed the police.
With emergency services arriving shortly after, the father of five was pronounced dead.