Rawalpindi - The residents of Christian Colony, Mughal Abad Road, became the victim of hate crime last week.

A local leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf led the charge against Christians. The residents told The Nation yesterday that youngsters from the areas of Azizabad, Spencer Colony and nearby market were barred from eve teasing in Christian Colony and the attack was result of this.

According to President Christian Welfare Aftab Bhatti, around forty people entered the colony from the main entrance on the night of August 19 during electricity loadshedding hours and violently beat men, women and children. Nearly a dozen of residents of Christian Colony, including women, were injured, while two attackers also received wounds during retaliation.

A resident Shahbaz Bhatti said the tension had been felt for the last 15 days and representatives of the colony also brought the matter under the consideration of the ‘attackers’ representative Asim Rehman, who is also a local political figure of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

“They actually attacked to take revenge of the complaint that we lodged before their leader, but I cannot comment why Asim didn’t stop them,” said Shahbaz.

Meanwhile, Asim Rehman told The Nation that the incident took place because drugs are being sold in the colony and both sides are equally responsible for the situation.

“Young boys visit the colony to purchase liquor and drugs, but the problem arises when they drink and smoke in front of the homes of the people in Christian Colony,” said Asim.

Shahbaz Bhatti, showing his fractured arm, informed that the mob was equipped with knives, iron rods, screwdrivers, axes, broken glass bottles, stones and bricks.

Bhatti also stated that the crowd entered the house of his brother and violently beat the whole family. During this someone pierced a knife in the arm of his sister-in-law Shazia Bibi, he added.

The FIR of the incident was lodged with police station RA Bazaar; however, the accused nominated in the complaint are still at large.

Investigation officer Mohammed Mumtaz talking to The Nation said that the persons nominated in the complaint are trying to settle the issue out of the court now, but the police will soon arrest all the attackers.

He also said that the feud occurred when residents of the colony protested and prevented some boys from taking drugs and liquor in the residential area. The investigation officer denied any religious motive behind the incident.

However, Nair Maseeh, another witness of the incident, said that the crowd also stoned the church but residents don’t want to mention that because they don’t want to disturb the harmony in the neighbourhood.

Describing the incident, he said nearly 40 people infiltrated into the residential area and threw stones and bricks at the houses and the local church.

“It was a horrible scene. There was no light the mob was abusing us, while our women and children were screaming with fear,” he said.

Another community leader Shamshad Maseeh informed The Nation that it was the fourth attack on the colony during the last 3 months; the previous attacks were not so severe in nature but this one has spread fear and rage amongst people living there.

He also stated that an application was also lodged with police last year mentioning the problems of the people living here, but no action was taken.

But, investigation officer denied about any previous complaints filed in this regard.

Aftab Bhatti believes that it was a planned attack. According to him, people in the colony live like a family in an open environment and these boys have no respect for women. “They drink and wander in front of our homes, and want freehand in our residential areas which no one can allow them, while they continuously threaten and attack us also,” said Aftab.

He also told The Nation that mediators who are trying to settle the issue are also talking in threatening tone.

Another woman on condition of anonymity said that there are some problems on part of the community also. They first invite the outsiders for their own ‘purposes’ and then raise objections.

Asim Rehman said that attack on the church is not in his knowledge and claimed that there is no tension in the area. Everyone is trying to resolve the issue and hopefully it will be settled.

“It was an unpleasant incident and I also requested to the Christian community representatives to keep the matter of church and mosque away from the issue as it can mislead the matter,” said Asim. The residents also demanded a full-fledged security and main gate for the colony.

According to Shamshad Maseeh, police played a positive role in controlling the issue but people don’t trust local political leaders of the area. “They first come to our homes for votes and later beat us,” he added.

—The writer is a freelance contributor.