Justice and Support for Asma, a Mentally Challenged Assault Victim in Pakistan

On the 13th of May, a horrifying act of violence took place in Hal Patiala Dost Muhammad, Muridke, which left the community in shock. Asma Bibi, a 35-year-old mentally challenged Christian woman who has been unable to walk or speak since childhood, was brutally assaulted while alone in her home. The perpetrator gained access through the stairs leading to the roof and committed this heinous crime while her brother, Nasir Iqbal Masih, and his wife, Sheeza Nasir, were at work, having locked the house from the outside.

The local police responded swiftly by registering a First Information Report (FIR) against the unknown assailant. They have already apprehended three to four individuals suspected of involvement in the crime. In addition, a forensic team has been diligently gathering evidence to aid in the investigation.

The family of the victim is devastated by this senseless act and is desperately seeking justice for their beloved Asma. The entire community stands in solidarity with them, demanding swift and decisive action against those responsible for this atrocity.

Upon returning home around 11:30 am, Sheeza Nasir discovered Asma’s clothing soaked in blood while she was cleaning the house after her work for a Muslim family. Asma, unable to speak, communicated through gestures that someone had descended the stairs and assaulted her. Overwhelmed with distress, Sheeza immediately contacted her husband, Nasir Masih, who works as a cleaner and sweeper at Zafar Arcade, a private market plaza.

Nasir recounted the incident:

“The tragic news shattered my heart. I hurried back to my house without a moment’s delay, feeling utterly helpless. I swiftly made my way to Saddar Police Station to report the horrifying incident. Thankfully, the police responded promptly, showing remarkable cooperation by immediately dispatching officers to our residence to gather evidence.”

The Station House Officer wasted no time and summoned both forensic and medical teams to conduct thorough investigations. Forensic experts meticulously collected Asma Bibi’s blood-soaked clothes and the bedsheet as crucial pieces of evidence. Subsequently, the police formally registered a First Information Report (FIR) under section 376 of the Pakistan Penal Code against the unidentified perpetrator, bearing FIR No. 811/24.

In a commendable display of diligence, the police apprehended three individuals from the neighboring area suspected to be involved in this heinous crime. Nasir Masih expressed his feelings, saying:

“The wheels of justice have been set in motion, and I fervently hope that the culprits are swiftly brought to account for their reprehensible actions.”

On the 14th of May, the BACA team visited the family and had a detailed conversation with Nasir Iqbal, who shared the immense tragedy that has afflicted their lives. Nasir, employed as a sweeper at Zafar Arcade market plaza, recounted the distressing events. His wife, Sheeza Nasir, also works diligently, undertaking cleaning and sweeping duties at a local Muslim family’s residence. Despite their humble circumstances, they reside in a rented house and strive tirelessly to provide for their family’s needs.

Nasir emphasized their routine security measures, stating, “We lock the main door from the outside when we leave for work every day.”

The gravity of the situation weighed heavily on him as he remarked, “We never imagined that such a brutal act could befall my innocent sister.”

Despite being the only Christian family on their street, Nasir expressed reluctance to cast suspicion on their Muslim neighbors, acknowledging, “Our neighbors in the surrounding area are all Muslims. We haven’t accused anyone because we lack evidence. The police have taken action by apprehending several Muslim men whom they suspect might be involved.”

In a concerning turn of events, Nasir disclosed that certain Muslim families in the vicinity are applying pressure to expedite the release of their men from police custody, asserting their innocence. Despite these assertions, Nasir firmly reiterated that he has not implicated anyone from the neighborhood. He affirmed his stance of non-interference in the police investigation, emphasizing his commitment to allowing the authorities to conduct their inquiries unhindered.

Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for the British Asian Christian Association, expressed deep concern:

“This was a brutal and traumatic attack on an extremely vulnerable victim and her family. Their plea for justice resonates deeply, and the authorities must continue their efforts to ensure that the perpetrator is swiftly brought to justice. Such acts of violence cannot be tolerated in any society, and the victim and her family must receive the support and closure they deserve during this incredibly challenging time.”

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