By a Special BosNewsLife Correspondent reporting from Pakistan
RAWALPINDI, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– A Christian woman remained in hospital Monday, June 28, after she was beaten and briefly abducted on the orders of a prominent Pakistani Muslim legislator “because Christians didn’t vote” for him, family and police said.
Komal John, 38, was attacked June 5, by armed men at her home in the city of Rawalpindi, according to witnesses.
They arrived in a car of parliamentarian Shakeel Awan of the influential Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) party, John’s family said. “Some six armed men came assaulted us and took my wife,” John’s husband and daughter added in a statement. Witnesses said Komal John was beaten before being pushed in the land cruiser vehicle.
The kidnapping reportedly came shortly after Awan fired John as his assistant on June 2 when discovering that a cousin had given the Christian woman money while visiting her when she was ill.
Awan objected to any support for John because “Christians didn’t vote for him” during a recent election in his district, according to Christians familiar with the case.
Local police was initially reluctant to intervene and denied a family request to launch a criminal investigation against Awan, local Christians said.
Awan allegedly had asked police to throw John’s relatives “out of the police station” and warned that “if they will try to file a complaint they will not see Komal again.”
The family contacted Christian advocacy groups, including the Christian Progressive Movement (CPM) and Ephlal Ministry, who said they gathered hundreds of activists outside the police station, blocking roads and shouting slogans to demand Komal’s release.
“Yes Shakeel Awan is a legislator, but that doesn’t mean he can go around and do anything he wants,” CPM Director Nayla J. Dayal told BosNewsLife. “He should be sacked immediately for this inhuman act”.
A senior police official told the crowd to remain calm. “I understand your pain, I will try my best to recover the lady,” said Rawalpindi District Coordination Officer Chaudhry Aslam Nawaz.
Amid mounting pressure, police reportedly contacted Awan saying that “it would be wise to release the woman”. She was released around 3am local time June 16, when Awan’s car dropped her at the police station. The woman required hospitalization. No more details were given about her injuries, but investigators ruled out sexual abuse.
No criminal investigation has been launched against the legislator, BosNewsLife established. Awan refused to comment.
The case has underscored concerns among human rights groups that officials are often reluctant to investigate attacks against minority Christians in the Islamic nation.