Sir: Pakistan’s minorities are caught between Islamic militant organizations and feudalism that routinely target the minorities. A feudal tried to harass and abduct a Christian nurse, Nazia Masih, a resident of village Padri Jo Goth, District Sanghar, Sindh. She has been working at Cheniot Hospital for some time. Ghulam Muhammad started pressurizing Nazir Masih for marriage and told her to convert to Islam. The punishment for refusal would be abduction or the throwing of acid on her face. Muhammad has reportedly abducted Hindu girls from local villages and forcefully converted them. There have also been accusations of rape. Nazir Masih was coming home on May 10 when she was intercepted by four armed men who gave her a last warning to accept Muhammad`s proposal. They snatched her purse and drove away. Masih got frightened and she tried to seek help, but the hospital authorities didn’t cooperate. Her parents decided to get her engaged. On May 26, 2013, during the engagement ceremony at Village Padri Jo Goth Sanghar, Ghulam Muhammad reached the venue accompanied by the police, who without any evidence, forcibly tried to arrest the girl and her fiancé Ejaz Joseph who is from District Nawabshah. After the involvement of the village elders the police took her father and brother, but released them a few hours later. Ghulam Muhammad pressurized Joseph to abandon Masih otherwise he along with his family would face dire consequences, and threatened Masih and her family with false criminal cases by taking advantage of his influential position and influence in the police department. Under such compelling circumstances the family approached the concerned SHO of the police station in Sanghar for protection, but the concerned authorities showed their inability to do so as Muhammad`s connections protected him. Subsequently, the family filed a plea (No. 521) against Ghulam Muhammad before the District and Sessions Judge Sanghar for their protection. Upon this Ghulam Muhammad filed objections through his advocate and submitted that he had legally married Nazia Masih. An order was passed on July 12, 2013 that whether Nazir and Ghulam are married is a matter between the two parties concerned, which needs adjudication before a family court. However the police was directed to provide protection to Nazia Masih.
After this Ghulam Muhammad started pressuring Masih`s relatives. He threatened Sister Marie Khurshid, the Principal of St. Teresa’s Hospital, Mirpurkhas. Sister Khurshid informed the concerned authorities and asked for protection. On July 8 a human rights group from Punjab went to Khipro and Sanghar and met the family. A petition was officially filed at the Sessions court. Despite the protection order passed by the District and Sessions Judge Sanghar, Ghulam Muhammad is continuously threatening Nazir Masih and her family. He has now also filed a case against her in Karachi. Nazia Masih is feeling deeply threatened by all this. The human rights group has also issued a statement saying that it is shameful that a nurse is made to suffer so much along with her family. Such incidents should be condemned strongly in society. We demand that the authorities ensure that Nazia Masih and her family are provided protection.”
XAVIER PATRAS WILLIAM