Sialkot, 26-01-2024: Two Christian brothers from Sialkot, Punjab, named Azam and Nadeem George Masih, were reportedly kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam. The harrowing episode unfolded on January 22, 2024, when Azam was accosted in the market of Kharota Syedan by Naseem Shah. Wielding a loaded pistol, Shah forced Azam onto a motorcycle and took him to the home of his accomplice, Sunny Shah.
According to FIR No. 77/24 filed at Kotli Loharan Police Station, the brothers were brutally beaten with iron rods. Naseem Shah accused Azam of "spreading wrongdoing" in the neighbourhood and coerced him under threat of death to convert to Islam. The assailants then brought Nadeem to the same location and subjected him to similar torture, seizing his cell phone in the process.
Dr. Adil Ghauri, Chairman of Masihi Tehreek-e-Baidari, has stepped in to support the family and seek justice. He revealed that the elder brother, Azam, is married, while Nadeem is unmarried. Dr. Ghauri condemned the actions of Naseem Shah and Sunny Shah as attempts to incite religious chaos, a tactic allegedly employed since the Jaranwala incident in August 2023.
The situation escalated when a local woman, previously arrested and then released by police for an alleged blasphemy act, was linked to this incident, hinting at broader tensions in the area. To maintain peace, Rev. Fr. Albert Abid and Muslim scholars, along with high-level police officials, are actively engaged in dialogues.
The family, however, remains in fear. After the arrest of the accused, they worry about retaliation and pressure to retract their complaint. Consequently, they have relocated to an undisclosed location for safety, disconnecting from all communication.
The injured brothers were treated at the District Headquarters Hospital before being sent home. In a meeting with Hafiz Asghar Cheema, Chairman of the District Peace Committee, and Rev. Fr. Albert Abid, it was resolved to take stringent action against the culprits and uphold Sialkot's peace.
The case, registered under various sections including kidnapping and criminal intimidation, has prompted widespread concern over religious freedom and minority rights in Pakistan.