A Christian petrol pump attendant has filed a lawsuit in the Pakistan city of Lahore, claiming he was abducted by unidentified Muslims who tried to convert him to Islam and chopped off his hands when he refused. Aqeel Masih, from the city's LDA quarter, appeared at Ghalib Market police station to file a lawsuit with the aid of the Legal Evangelical Association Development.
"The extremists exerted pressure on him to abandon Christianity and convert to Islam," the group said on its website. "Aqeel however, did not give up on his Christian faith and refused to comply with their demand. Notwithstanding his rebuttal, they chopped off his both arms and absconded."
Pakistan has a Christian community of some 2.5 million, making up 1.6% of the country's overwhelmingly Muslim population. Like other religious and tribal minorities the group faces persecution and sometimes death at the hands of fanatics. Churches have been bombed, Christian neighbourhoods attacked and individuals tortured or killed as "blasphemers" for refusing to convert to Islam.
In 2014 Christian couple Sajjad Maseeh, 27, and wife Shama Bibi, 24, were burned alive by a mob of 1,200 after rumours circulated they had burned a copy of the Koran. Shama, who was four months pregnant, was wrapped in cotton to make her burn more easily. The pair were then dropped into a kiln. Most recently, Christians celebrating Easter were attacked by the Pakistan Taliban, also in Lahore, capital of Punjab. More than 70 were killed, many of them children, when a suicide bomber attacked a playground.
However, in the case of Masih, police are sceptical about the claims. Police investigator Ammara Athar told The Nation: "The circumstantial evidence do not support the claims of the victim.
Apparently, it seemed that the man lost his arms in a train accident."
The police told the newspaper the victim was thought to be a drug addict who fell onto tracks following a suspected overdose. The investigation continues.