By BosNewsLife Asia Service
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)-- A Christian disabled man in Pakistan's Punjab province "cries out for justice" after he was shot and stabbed by influential Muslims, his supporters told BosNewsLife Wednesday, February 27.
Khalid Masih, 35, was attacked February 6 in the district of Faisalabad, but local authorities and police refused to investigate the case "as he is a Christian", said Pakistani rights groups Masihi Foundation and Life for All.
Rights activists claimed the publicly identified suspects Irshad Gujjar and his cousin Aslam Gujjar took the Christian man "forcefully" to an area, several miles outside his district village.
They then "dragged him from the car and stabbed him several times with a knife, injuring his hands and lips [and also] shot his knee caps twice," the rights groups explained in a statement.
Nearby farmers, who heard the shots, rushed to the scene and brought the abandoned, injured, man to Civil Hospital in Faisalabad, Christians said.
Though he was released from hospital following successful treatment, Masih will require medical attention for some time, according to Christians familiar with the case.
Muslim anger over his Christian faith was not the only reason why he was attacked, investigators suggested.
Local Muslims were reportedly also furious that he watched a controversial deal between Babar Masih and Irshad Gujjar, a local business man.
On February 2 the Christian apparently saw that Gujjar exchanged his horse for Babar Masih's scooter, with both men signing a document to make it official.
Yet, "the next day Irshad Gujjar returned furious and claimed that the horse was worth more than Babar Masih's the scooter, so he demanded more money," the rights groups said.
Unable to find him, Gujjar instead threatened the Christian man and threw away his crunches and later returned for a more violent attack, according to rights investigators.
BosNewsLife wasn't able to reach the suspects involved in the alleged violence. Local police reportedly refused to register the case, telling Masih to "keep quiet about the matter" because he "is a Christian, a minority, who doesn’t have a say in anything."
The "Gujjars are influential Muslims. Masih kept on demanding justice from the authorities, but no one heard his cry. His assailants are at large and unpunished," the rights groups told BosNewsLife.
The groups said they would go to court to demand a criminal investigation, the detention of "the culprits" and "an inquiry against the [police] officers for negligence to duty for not registering a case."
This is no isolated incident. "Punjab is a hub of religious discrimination, thousands of [Christians like] Khalid Masih are discriminated on a daily basis" in the what is Pakistan's most populous province, added the Masihi Foundation and Life for All.
"Many cases go unreported. It is time to keep a check on the growing religious intolerance," the rights groups said about the situation of minority Christians in this heavily Islamic nation.
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