Brother of Christian Lawyer Defending Family of Two Gang Raped Pakistani Girls Shot by Muslim After Refusing Court Compromise
The brother of a Pakistani human rights lawyer who is defending the family of two teen Christian girls, who were gang raped in the middle of the night last December by five Muslim men, was shot by an enraged Muslim after consistently refusing to settle on a court-avoiding legal compromise.
Pervaiz Gill, the brother of attorney Sadar Mushtaq Gill, was shot in the back last Wednesday in Kasur after declining multiple times to agree on a legal settlement in the court case brought forth by the Christian teens' father, Ilyas Masih, the British Pakistani Christian Association reported.
Masih is seeking justice for his two daughters, Sherish and Farzana, who were abducted from outside their home last Dec. 3 and were gang raped by a group of Muslim men. The two girls were found lying unconscious the next morning along the roadside several miles away from their home village of Jaranwala.
"The fight for justice and against inequality will be continued and our campaign against the violation of human rights and for religious liberty shall not be discouraged by such perpetrators and their actions," Mushtaq Gill told the BPCA, the humanitarian agency that houses the two girls.
After one of the five Muslim men accused of the rape, Muhammad Azeem, was granted release from prison on bail, he gathered the support of local drug dealers to go confront and try to intimidate Pervaiz Gill into accepting a legal settlement on his brother's behalf.
Gill rejected the settlement attempt and told the group of Muslim men that he had no authority in the court case because that was a matter for his brother to handle. Later, he was approached again by the men when they demanded that he accept the compromise. Again, Gill refused and explained that only the plaintiff can agree on a settlement and drop the case.
On April 1, Gill was on his way home when he was stopped by another Muslim drug dealer in the town, Muhammad Bilal, who threatened him and his brother if he did not accept a settlement. About an hour later, Bilal's father went to Gill's house to apologize for his son's behavior and threats and also pushed for Gill to come to the house to work on a settlement. After the father demanded, Gill reluctantly accepted the invite to the house after being pressured by his neighbors.
As Gill and the father approached Bilal's house, Bilal shouted at Gill saying, "How dare you Christians not act on the order for a compromise of the gang-rape case." The BPCA report added that Bilal then pointed his gun at Gill and said: "Run to save your life now!" Bilal fired his gun and nailed Gill in the lower back.
Gill was rushed to the nearby civil hospital, where he was refused admittance but was referred to another hospital, where he was accepted and treated. Although he was nearly killed by the bullet, Gill escaped with a non-life threatening bullet wound.
"This latest attack has shattered any remaining confidence the family held that justice would be done," BPCA Chairman Wilson Chowdhry said in a statement. "It seems that Muslim men do not fear Christian lawyers and they believe violent conduct can be undertaken with impunity. Even then Ilyas Masih and Mushtaq Gill have vowed to continue the fight for justice. I hope Pakistani authorities reward this bravery and sentence the culprits, but my confidence in Pakistan's legal system has waned to its lowest ebb."
This is not the first time that Muslim men have threatened and shot at those involved with the Masih court case. On Feb. 10, two men on motorcycles, who claimed to be relatives of the men involved in the raping, stopped in front of the home that Sherish and Farzana were living in and yelled that they deserved to be raped because they were Christian and allegedly opened fire on the house, nearly shooting the teen girls' brother.
Since the attack, the family of the teen girls and their brother have been removed from their home in Jarnawala due to safety concerns.
"Ilyas Masih and his family have suffered greatly, his two gang-raped daughters are in our care and his sons have gone to live with an aunt, which is not a long term solution," Chowdhry explained. "Threats to the family are increasing in intensity and also in ferocity as the legal process proceeds through the courts."