RAHIM YAR KHAN: Obtaining water from a mosque tap landed a farm workers family from the Hindu community in trouble as some village landlords allegedly tortured and held them hostage for “violating the sanctity” of the place.
The incident took place a few days back when Alam Ram Bheel, a resident of Basti Kahoor Khan in the city suburbs, was picking raw cotton (phutti) along with his other family members, including his wife, in a field of Chak 106-P. Ram said when the family went outside a nearby mosque to fetch drinking water from a tap, some local landlords and their men beat them. When the family was returning home after unloading the picked cotton, the landlords held them hostage at their dera (outhouse) and tortured them again.
Later, some Muslim residents of Basti Kahoor Khan got the Bheel family released.
Ram Bheel said the Airport police station did not register the case as the attackers were related to a local PTI parliamentarian.
Ram said he held a sit-in outside the police station, along with another clan member Peter Jhon Bheel to protest the highhandedness.
Also a member of the district peace committee, Peter Jhon Bheel told Dawn that they approached PTI MNA Javed Warriach who helped them lodge the FIR under sections 506, 154, 379, 148 and 149 of the Pakistan Penal Code on Friday last.
Jhon said he requested other members of the district peace committee to call an emergency meeting over the issue but they did not take him seriously.
PTI’s south Punjab minority wing secretary general Yodhister Chohan told Dawn the incident was in his knowledge but due to the influence of a ruling party MP he preferred to stay away.
District Police Officer Asad Sarfraz said that he was looking into the matter.
Deputy Commissioner Dr Khuram Shehzad said he would meet Hindu minority elders on Monday (today) before taking any action.
He said after the Bhong temple issue, the district administration had received some complaints from the minority community which proved fake when investigated.
Answering a question about the 'inactive' peace committee, the DC claimed it was “fully functional”.
Confirming the happening, Farooq Rind, a senior lawyer and former district bar president, said he also belonged to Basti Kahoor where the Bheels had been living for more than a century. He said most the clan members were farm workers and extremely poor.
Rind said the accused landlords were notorious for picking up fights with other villagers over petty issues. He promised free legal aid for the complainant family.
Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2021