Sixty-year-old Seema Bibi went from being a Christian to a Muslim, and back, in six months – but fellow villagers did not take kindly to this change of heart, and religion.
Seema was tortured – her head shaved – and paraded through the streets of village Kot Marth, garlanded with shoes, police officials and residents said.
After receiving threats of ‘dire consequences’ from village clerics, Seema and her family have migrated from Kot Marth, sources added.
Seema, wife of Yousaf Masih, had converted to Islam six months ago, but went back to her original faith a few days ago, inviting the locals’ ire, officials said.
In ‘retaliation’ for the reconversion, about 27 locals, at the behest of one Muhammad Ayub, tortured Seema, shaved her head, garlanded her with shoes and paraded her through the village streets on February 26.
Police were not aware of the incident and consequently there was a delay in registering a case, SHO Begowala police station Munawar Hussain Shah told The Express Tribune. A case has been registered against Ayub and others, Shah said.
The motive behind the villagers’ ‘retaliation’ was the reconversion from Islam to Christianity, the official said, adding that all 27 accused identified by Seema have been arrested.
Police have stepped up surveillance in the village after the incident, due to tensions between the Muslims and the Christians, he said.
Following the assault, Seema and her family left the village to save their lives, Shah said, adding that police would have ensured their safety had they stayed behind.
Seema and her husband, talking to The Express Tribune from an undisclosed location via telephone, said that they left the village after receiving consistent threats of ‘dire consequences’ from extremists in their area.
Some of the accused have also been freed on bail, they said. “We left the village since we had no other option,” her husband added.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 10th, 2012.