Karachi: Christian boys being kidnapped, sexually abused in Essa Nagri
KARACHI: The Essa Nagri neighbourhood is full of life and fun in the afternoon as kids play freely, while adults sit and discuss their thoughts on a wide variety of issues. But as soon as the sun sets and darkness falls, the crowd on the streets starts thinning.
Children are whisked inside homes by anxious mothers and young girls are not seen around at all. The reasons for such anxiety are well-founded as several children have been abducted from the area and assaulted in a nearby building known as Meekasa Apartments for the past six months.
“Children are sexually abused and the act is filmed as well,” says Peter Bhatti, a resident of Essa Nagri. Families are later asked to arrange for Rs100,000, or “they threaten to circulate the videos.”
When asked if any FIR had been registered, the residents exchanged looks, with one of them saying, “We have to spend the rest of our lives in the same neighbourhood.” Shakila Anjum, a mother of two, said that she “went through hell” recently as two of her sons, aged 13 and 14, were abducted. “These people abduct our children and then abuse them. We get phone calls not to inform the police.”
The only option left for the families is to arrange for the money. With professions ranging from musicians to shopkeepers, arranging the money can be difficult and adds to the burden of their already poor economic conditions. Christians have a population of around a million in Karachi and reside in 230 areas.
Some of the densely populated Christian areas, such as Essa Nagri, Akhtar Colony and Ayub Goth, have become dangerous for the people residing there. There is a fear from workers of different political parties, who extort money from them. In addition, youngsters and adults are being kidnapped and forcibly converted. Also, the Christian community is caught in the midst of a “political battle between various groups for land”.
“We can neither confront these people nor complain anywhere,” says former PPP MPA Michael Javed. He adds that some two years ago, he was abducted and threatened after he openly criticised workers of a political party. “Even being an MPA, I wasn’t able to do anything. How can I expect these people to show strength?”