OKARA: A Muslim political candidate for Elections 2013, prompted calls from local mosque loudspeakers; to attack on Christians – blaming the Christians for his May 11 election defeat.
As CIP has learned, a provincial assembly seat candidate Mehr Abdul Sattar, who was also named in a murder case in 2008 and is sought by police in this regard; arranged for mosque calls for violence against Christian villages. Apprehension reached its climax in Punjab Province’s Okara upon these calls on May 13.
“Burn their homes to the ground … Punish them such that they forget Gojra and Joseph Colony,” echoed the village mosques in the district, witness Younas Iqbal says. Younas is Chairman of the Anjuman-e-Mazareen Punjab-a peasant movement fighting for land rights.
Iqbal further stated that when unofficial election results were announced on May 12, Sattar’s supporters attacked a party of about 100 Christians, who were on their way to pass on good wishes to his opponent on his victory.
“They destroyed two motorcycles and threw them in the canal, besides damaging a tractor,” he said. “We went to the Okara Saddar Police Station to register a case, but the police officials refused to move against Mehr.”
“Sattar has targeted Christians in several villages, designated by number-letter combinations from British colonial times, particularly village 8/4-L, for voting against him,” Iqbal added. Whereas, Christians for the most part voted for Mian Yawar Zaman, a Muslim candidate for a provincial assembly seat in the general election on May 11.
Iqbal further unfolds, that prior to the ambush on May 13, “Sattar’s men prevented the Christian principal of the Government Primary School, Shamoun Masih, men from entering the institution.”
“They told Shamoun that since the Christians had voted against Mehr, he wouldn’t be allowed inside. They also roughed him up, but there were no serious injuries. In 3/4-L village, Amjad Masih was harassed,” he said.
Additionally he added that Sattar’s cohorts had also forcibly occupied land of some Christians. “The threat of violence in 8/4-L is most serious because of the tiny Christian population there, approximately 600 Christians. Sensing the gravity of the situation, we immediately informed Zaman, the legislator-elect, who pressed the police to deploy personnel in the village,” he complained.
While the Okara Police Chief Rao Jabbar, on the other hand said that “officers would take all necessary measures to protect the Christian peasants.”
The Okara Police Premier declared, “We have taken notice of the inciting speeches made by Mehr Abdul Sattar, and I have assured the Christians that we will initiate legal action against him. Meantime, I’ve directed all police officers concerned to remain vigilant and ensure that there is no damage to life and property of the Christians.”
However, apparently, “the Police have been helpless in the face of Sattar, though,” Iqbal said. “Even though the district police chief has promised to protect the area’s Christians, the danger will always remain there. Several cases have been registered against Mehr, but no action has been taken against him. In January this year, the police tried to arrest Mehr and his men in a murder case, but his supporters blocked three main highways for several hours, forcing the police to abandon action against him.”
Moreover, Police sought Sattar in connection with the murder of Javed Masih – Christian who had opposed Sattar in a 2008 election.
Iqbal carried on, “The late Javed Masih used to tell the peasants to vote according to their conscience and not get intimidated by gangsters like Mehr. His efforts bore fruit, and Mehr lost the general election in 2008. Unfortunately, Masih had to sacrifice his life for the cause, while several others were injured in an armed attack by Mehr’s men.”
“Our application against Mehr Abdul Sattar is still pending with the police, but it seems more Christian blood will be shed before he is brought to justice,” Iqbal said. “But this will not deter us from using our right to vote. We refuse to give in to the tyranny of criminals like Mehr.”