Tragic Assault on Two Christian Women in Sargodha Sparks Outrage and Demands for Justice

Sargodha, 29 January 2024: A harrowing incident in Sargodha has sent shockwaves through the local community, drawing attention to the vulnerabilities faced by minority groups in Pakistan. On January 27, 2024, around 2:30 pm, two Christian women, Rukhsana Nasir and Asifa Bilal, were victims of a brutal assault and attempted rape in the sugarcane fields of Chak no 122(South), District Sargodha.

Rukhsana and Asifa, due to the unavailability of basic sanitation facilities in their village, had resorted to using the open fields, a practice often necessitated for villagers. In this vulnerable setting, Abdul Raouf Arian, 42, armed with an axe, launched a violent assault on Rukhsana. Asifa, hearing her distress, hurried to help but found herself overpowered by Arian, who then proceeded to attack both women.

Nasir Masih, Rukhsana’s husband, described the terrifying scene he and Bilal, Asifa’s husband, encountered upon rushing to their aid. They found Rukhsana lying unconscious, her clothes stained with blood. Nasir, a gardener at Pakistan Army Depot, expressed his suspicion about Arian’s intentions, noting his previous inappropriate behaviour towards their family.

The aftermath of the attack left Rukhsana with deep wounds requiring 14 stitches on her face and palm. Both women, still in pain and affected by the cold weather, struggle to recover from their physical and emotional trauma.

The local community initially sought reconciliation, delaying the registration of an FIR. However, as the news spread on social media, Pastor Nasir Azeem, Advocate Tahir Naveed Choudhry, and others intervened, ensuring that the police registered the FIR. The complaint was finally filed under sections 354 TP, 337A(i) TP, and 337F(i) TP at the Sillanwali Police Station on January 30, 2024. Advocates are now pushing for additional relevant sections to be included in the FIR.

Pastor Azeem highlighted that the victims, who are sisters-in-law, reside in a predominantly Christian colony amidst a larger Muslim community. He runs a Pentecostal Church in the village, serving the local Christian population.

Chaudhry Mansoor Randhawa, a prominent figure in the community, condemned the incident, asserting that the lives, honour, and property of Christians in Pakistan are often undervalued. He demanded the immediate arrest and prosecution of the perpetrator.

This incident has not only brought to light the plight of minority communities in Pakistan but also underscored the need for more robust protection and legal recourse for victims of such crimes. It raises serious questions about the safety of women, particularly in rural areas, and calls for urgent action from authorities to ensure justice and prevent such atrocities in the future.

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