Village Khamba is located in Wapda Town Phase II, Lahore, Police Station Sato Katla, where most of the population is Muslim and only 150-200 Christian families live there. Most of the Christians living there are illiterate and poor a
The Dogars of the area had been demanding the Christians to handover the land to them that was allotted to the Christians by their forefathers before partition. The Christians of the area had built their houses on this 16 Kanal land and some part of it was used as their graveyard that also had a church built in the same area, where they used to say their prayers.
Today on 27 March 2005 at 10:30 a.m. the Dogars (caste in Muslims) namely Mukhtar Dogar s/o Din Mohammad, Zulfiqar Ali alias Pappu alias Malki s/o Din Mohammad, Imran alias Kali s/o Sardar Mohammad and Shah Behram alias Gogi s/o Sardar Mohammad opened fire on the congregation of Victory Church International affiliated with Raiwind Diocese of Pakistan. This church was once called New Apostolic Church.
The team was met with a big gathering of Christians who were standing in the premises of the hospital.
Statement of Niamat Masih (injured):
According to Niamat Masih s/o Channan Masih age about 26/27 years who was also shot on his left hand during the firing on the congregation, told that about 150-200 Christian families live in the area and rest of the population consists of Muslims in the area of village Khamba, Wapda Town, Phase II, Lahore. There had been some dispute between Christians and Muslims on the land that was allotted to the forefathers of Christians by the forefathers of Muslims before partition. Now in the recent years the government had has planned a housing scheme in their area that has raised the value of the land, therefore, the Dogars wanted the land that was allotted to the Christian community.
Today on 27 March 2005 at 10:30 a.m. after the Easter service when the people were coming out of the church when the Dogars namely Mukhtar Dogar s/o Din Mohammad, Zulfiqar Ali alias Pappu alias Malki s/o Din Mohammad, Imran alias Kali s/o Sardar Mohammad and Shah Behram alias Gogi s/o Sardar Mohammad opened fire on them. The culprits fired for half-an-hour and during this process one Irshad Masih s/o Said Masih died on the spot. Irshad was shot near his right eye and the bullet went through his head due to which he could not survive. Also Arshad Masih s/o Bashir Masih, Naeem Masih s/o Ismaeel Masih, Ismaeel Masih s/o Siraj Masih, Pervez Masih s/o Sadique Masih, Jameel Masih s/o Sadique Masih, Imram Masih got injured due heavy firing of the Dogars. They all were taken to the hospital while the police was called on emergency number 15. The police raided the spot and arrested the four culprits and recovered weapons from them i.e. Pump Action, 244 Bore Riffle and 30 Bore pistol.
Statement of Ismaeel Masih (injured):
Ismaeel Masih s/o Siraj Masih was shot on his both legs. The bullet has passed through his right thigh while his lower left leg has been fractured due to heavy firing. He stated that he along with other congregation was coming out of the church when Dogars opened fire on them. They were so terrorized that they could not do anything to save themselves or others. During the firing he got injured along with other six members of the congregation.
Ismaeel Masih with one fractured leg in the hospital giving his statement
The mentionable thing that he told the team was that the two constables who were appointed to guard outside the church during the mass went back while the Christian worshippers were still inside the church. Whereas, according to the notification issued by the government and the police officials that the guards are supposed to remain outside the churches until there is no one left inside the church.
He said that none of the Christians had doubted that they would be targeted on this holy day of Easter, they had been living in the village peacefully and only the Dogars were harassing them to get hold of the land.
Statement of Naeem (injured):
Naeem Masih s/o Ismaeel, 34 years, an electrician by profession is a married man and has a daughter who is 4-years-old and two sons age 9 and 5 years respectively. He has been shot on his left hip, left thigh and left arm while his left lower leg was also fractured due to heavy firing by the Dogars.
He also gave the same statement as the other injured that they were coming out of the church after Easter Mass at 10:30 a.m. when the Dogars opened fire at them and the person who shot Naeem was Zulfiqar Ali alias Pappu alias Malki s/o Din Mohammad. He said that he could identify his shooter whenever required.
Â· Jamil Masih s/o Sadiq Masih, 28 years old, shot on right foot.
Â· Arshad Masih s/o Bashir Masih
Â· Imran Masih
They all gave the same statements as the others did and told the team that they were coming out of the church when the Dogars shot them.
Pervez Masih s/o Sadique Masih, 28, was unconscious since he was operated for multiple shots. He has been shot on his both legs and on his abdomen hurting his urinary bladder. He was in critical condition therefore but the doctor on duty Dr. Mubashar told the team that he was out of danger.
Wound on the abdomen came to Pervez Masih due to the firing of the Dogars
The CLAAS investigation team then went to the village Khamba and met Christian community that was gathered near the church.
Statement of Soahil (one of the worshipper’s):
He told the team that right after the service when the people were gathered in the church compound the 4 culprits opened fire, while some Christian children were playing outside the church boundary. The men rushed out to save the children the assailants opened straight firing on them and they fired for about half-an-hour, killing one Irshad Masih and injuring seven other worshippers. He said that Christians in the area are very poor and work as laborers. The Dogars had been demanding for the land that was supposed to be the graveyard of the Christian community of the area and it also had church constructed on it. They did not have any idea that today the Dogars would come out to harass the Christian community and harming them physically. He said that the Christians are poor therefore, they like to live peacefully with the Muslims but since the Muslims are in majority therefore, the Dogars took advantage and did a heinous act against them.
The team also met some of the women who were mourning over the incident and for the death of Irsahd Masih.
Nazia Bibi d/o Rehmat Masih, Rani Bibi w/o Bilal Masih, Suraiya Bibi w/o Sher Masih and Kausar Bibi w/o Saith Masih gave the same statement that they all were present inside the church when the Dogars opened fire at the congregation when they were coming out of the church. They all were demanding for justice for the victims of this incidence.
The CLAAS investigation team was also met by Aftab S.H.O (Station House Officer) Police Station Chuhang. He told the team that Mukhtar Dogar and Zulfiqar Ali alias Pappu alias Malki were arrested. The S.H.O of the concerned Police Station Sato Katla was busy in the legal proceedings therefore, he was ordered to stay at the place of occurrence. The S.H.O Aftab told the team that he had recovered and collected about 7 to 8 empty bullet shells of 244 Bore Riffle and 30 Bore pistol.
The team also went to the house of the deceased Irshad Masih and met his mother and wife and consoled them.
Statement of Kausar Bibi (mother of Irshad Masih, deceased):
She said that she only has three sons and Irshad was on second number, her eldest son Iqbal and youngest son Fiaz they both are unmarried, while Irshad was married and has a 1-year-old daughter. She said that Irshad was a laborer and was an obedient son and a loving husband as well as a father. He was very loving and caring person and she has no idea why her son has been taken away from her. She said that she does not have any enmity with the Dogars but they killed her son. Irshad has a daughter namely Eman, 1-year-old, who has lost her father in such a small age and at that time when she could hardly remember him when she will grow old.
Fauzia w/o Irshad Masih (deceased)
Irshad’s wife Fauzia,18, was not in a position to give any statement as she was in a mental shock after the murder of her husband. She was continuously mourning for her husband and asking her relatives to get her back her husband.
The team was told that the Priest In-charge of the church Pastor Riaz was with the father of the deceased and therefore was unable to give his statement. The team then went to the Police Station Sato Katla and reached there at 06:00 p.m. and was informed that the father of the deceased Said Masih had gone with the police for postmortem, while Pastor Riaz has gone back to the village. The constable was busy in writing the FIR.
The team then met the S.H.O Police Station Sato Katla Mr. Mustansar after the FIR No. 200/05 dated 27-03-2005 U/S (under section) 302/324 34 PPC (Pakistan Penal Code) and enquired about the progress being made in this incident. He said that this is not an isolated incident and he has not checked the spot yet. Two of the attackers had been arrested while the other two are absconder and the police are raiding different places to arrest them. He said that he will further investigate in this matter but the fact that has come to him is that this is only a minor issue of land dispute and it does not have any factor of terrorism involved in it. He said that the disputed land belongs to Christians and the Dogars only wanted to take it away from them, otherwise there is no other motive of attack on Christians in any regard.
The members of the team argued with him and disagreed with him that this is not a terrorism act, since this action was taken on a very special day in the Christian calendar i.e. on Easter Day. This act was not done against an individual in fact it was against the entire Christian community to threaten and harass them. The team also enquired him about the two police constables who were supposed to be on the guard outside the church during the Easter service and were supposed to be there until the church was completely empty, but he did not give any satisfactory answer and said that the church was finished at 09:00 a.m. and this incident took at 10:30 a.m. and before the culprits opened fire they were attacked by the Christians and one of them namely Zulfiqar Ali alias Pappu alias Kali got injured and therefore, the Dogars opened fire on them.
The team then went to the Mayo Hospital’s Morgue to meet Said Masih father of deceased Irshad Masih.
Statement of Said Masih:
He told the team that they were coming out of the church when the Dogars opened fire at them and his son was shot while protecting him and died on the spot. He said that the killers of his son were after the 16 Kanal land was the property of the Christian community and out of this only 6 Kanal was disputed. When asked about the FIR that was lodged against the culprits, he denied that the things mentioned in the FIR are not true and he did tell the police that the Dogars came to the mark the disputed land one day before the Easter Sunday but the police was called, who got involved in the matter and stopped them from doing their work.
Said Masih father of Irshad Masih
The team has concluded that this incidence is not against an individual but indeed this is a terrorism act against the Christian community living in Pakistan. This is not the first time that Christian worshippers have been targeted by Muslims; there had been incidents in the past as well. In most of the cases the culprits had never been caught and declared as agents of RAW (Indian Intelligence Agency) but if they are caught then the FIR is registered against them making it an act of personal grudge or a land dispute.
Once again on 27 March 2005 when Christian worshippers were attacked by Muslims and fortunately this time they were being identified and being arrested by the Superintendent of Police on the spot still there are questions that need to be answered:
1. If this is a matter of disputed land then why did this incident took place on Easter Day that is a sacred day in the Christian calendar.
2. The Police Guards appointed to guard outside the church until the church is over and is left empty without any worshiper, why they left before the church was over and the police claiming that the church was finished at 09:00 a.m. whereas, the churches in all over the world start after nine (9:00) and finishes between 10:00-11:00 a.m.
3. If the police had arrested the culprits on the spot then why they have mentioned only one weapon i.e. 30 Bore Pistol in the FIR. Where are the weapons used to injure the worshippers?
4. When according to the injured and the witnesses the Superintendent of Police raided immediately and arrested the culprits on the spot then why there are only two persons being declared as arrested and the two as absconder? Where are the other two who were also arrested according to the villagers?
The police have mala fide intentions and want to distort the facts to prevent the culprits and the statement of a police official that one of the attackers Zulfiqar was injured first and then they opened fire at the Christian community shows that the police is trying to protect the oppressor and to deprive the oppressed Christian community from justice by making it a self defense case in favor of the Dogars.
We demand the Government of Pakistan to take necessary action to prevent such incidents from happening again and again in this country and to make sure that this time at least the Christian community gets the justice that they deserve.