Pakistan Christian Dies After Gunmen Storm House

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

By Xavier P. William, reporting from Pakistan

Homes of Christians have been destroyed in previous violence in Punjab and other areas of Pakistan.

LAHORE, PUNHAB (Worthy News)-- A young Christian man died of a heart attack after armed Muslim gunmen stormed his house in the outskirts of Lahore, the capital of Pakistan's Punjab province, where Islamic attacks against minority Christians are increasing, two advocacy groups said Wednesday, March 10.

Life for All and Protect Foundation told Worthy News and its news partner BosNewsLife that Mukhityar Masih, 37, "was murdered" Sunday, March 7,in Youhanabad, a Christian colony near Lahore, amid a dispute over land.

A Muslim real-estate agent and landowner allegedly took 20 gunmen to Masih because the Christian hadtold local police he had not received promised documents for land he bought over a decade ago.

"A contract was signed that [Masih] would pay [for the land] in installments for 10 years and that [after that period]he would receive the register and other documents," the advocacy groups said.


Although Masih paid all installments, the landlord, identified as Shafi Mayo, allegedly delayed handing overthe papers. Police reportedly accepted Masih's complaint and tried to arrest the landlord, but he escapedand arrived at Masih's house with gunmen.

They threatened Masih "at gun point to take back the police complaint" saying he and his family would otherwise"face dire consequences," Life for All and Protect Foundation explained. Masih, "fainted and fell on the floor, he suffered a heart attack and died," the rights activists said.

His family reportedly took the dead body and put it on a local road where they demanded the arrest of Shafi Mayo andhis allies.

There was no comment from Mayo and it was unclear when police would detain the suspects.

"Christian organizations Life for All and Protect Foundation protested with the grieving family and demanded justice...", the rights activists said.


They said the incident was the latest in a series of attacks in the region."Incidents of injustice with the Christians are increasing in Punjab province of Pakistan."

The Pakistani government has come under international pressure to reduce anti-Christian violence and improve the rights of Christians in this mainly Muslim nation.

Last year was the "worst period of persecution against Christians" in Pakistan in the last decade, with attacks,arrests and detentions that reportedly killed some 130 Christians, according to the independent Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS).

Several Christians are also held in detention for "blasphemy" against Islam, charges human rights groups sayhave often been used to settle personal disputes over land or other issues.(With additional reporting by Worthy News' Stefan J. Bos).