London: (By Juliet Chowdhry and Hannah Chowdhry) In a distressing incident that unfolded on the night of September 6th, the Christian community residing in Tandlianwala, District Faisalabad, was compelled to evacuate their homes due to imminent threats from a portion of the Muslim population.
The catalyst for this alarming situation was an ex-Christian woman who threatened the community, stating that she would accuse them of blasphemy if they opposed her amoral activities that compromised the Christian values of the residents.
The police have arrested the woman and ensured the protection of the community against any impending danger of Muslims attacking the Christian community.
The ordeal began when Najma Bibi, an ex-Christian woman, issued a menacing threat to the local Christian community. She vowed to accuse them of blasphemy, a grave charge in Pakistan, if they continued to oppose her drug-dealing activities, which were compromising the Christian values of the residents. This threat sent shockwaves through the Christian community, prompting them to fear for their safety.
As tensions escalated, Najma Bibi enlisted her Muslim son-in-law, Muhammad Akram, to rally local Muslims for an attack on the Christian residents. She instructed him to falsely claim that the Christians had insulted and abused the Prophet Muhammad. Simultaneously, Najma Bibi herself ventured into the Muslim neighborhood and incited a mob to march towards the Christian residents, creating a volatile situation.
Pastor William, a prominent figure in the village, swiftly contacted the police, seeking their intervention to safeguard the Christians from the advancing mob. Responding promptly, the police managed to intercept the mob, which had gathered momentum with hundreds of individuals, all fueled by anger and misinformation. Fortunately, the police’s intervention succeeded in dispersing the mob, averting a potential catastrophe.
“She would have succeeded in her plan if we had not called 15 for police emergency help,” Pastor William stated.
He added, “She is a woman of questionable character and holds animosity towards Christians because they oppose her.”
Najma Bibi’s sinister plan was nearly successful had it not been for the timely police intervention. She was subsequently arrested and charged under Sections 211 and The Punjab Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance 1960 for compromising law and order in the area. While Najma Bibi was apprehended, the Christian residents, still gripped by fear due to a previous incident in Jaranwala, chose to lock their homes and relocate to undisclosed locations for their safety.
Although Najma Bibi had been arrested, local traders were reportedly considering hosting a protest against the Christians, alleging that they had insulted and abused the Prophet. However, the police engaged with the traders and revealed Najma Bibi’s ulterior motives, exposing her attempts to settle personal scores with the local Christian population.
One crucial aspect of Najma Bibi’s presence in the village was her involvement in drug dealing. This illegal activity had compromised the security of the local Christians, as addicts frequently visited her to procure drugs. The Christian community had repeatedly implored her to cease her unlawful operations in the area, but she responded with threats and intimidation.
It is essential to note that the Muslim community in Tandlianwala appears to be divided. While a faction was incited by Najma Bibi’s false allegations, the majority of Muslims did not participate in the mob or endorse her actions. This division highlights the complexity of interfaith relations and the importance of fostering understanding and tolerance among diverse communities.
Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for British Asian Christian Association, said:
“Even though the situation remains under control of the police, the Christian community of Tandlianwala continues to live in fear, hesitant to return to their homes.
“The upcoming Friday prayer on September 8th has raised concerns of a potential attack on the village.
“However, the Station House Officer, Mr. Muhammad Imran, has met with Christian leaders thanks to BACA and he has assured full cooperation from his force to ensure the safety of the Christian community in Tandlianwala.
“This incident serves as a stark reminder of the challenges faced by religious minorities in Pakistan and underscores the need to improve the protection of minority rights.”