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Pakistan: Police Hamper Prosecution of Accused Killers of Young Christian Man

Persecution of Christians in Pakistan: the ongoing mistreatment of Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan is all too often aided and abetted by police and other officials who side with the persecutors instead of the victims. The nation’s small and courageous Orthodox Christian community is as vulnerable to this as are the rest of Pakistan’s Christians.

Please pray that the Christian community in Pakistan will be able to endure this martyrdom and experience a resurrection, and that relief will come to this courageous and long-suffering Christian community.

For previous ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in Pakistan, see here.

“Police Hamper Prosecution of Accused Killers, Sources Say,” Morning Star News, February 8, 2021:

LAHOREPakistan (Morning Star News) – Suspects in the killing of a young Christian man a year ago in Pakistan have been freed on bail due to police connivance and are issuing death threats to pressure relatives to drop the case, sources said.

Muslim land-owners upset with farmworker Saleem Masih, 22, for “polluting” their tube-well by rinsing in it tortured him to death in February 2020 near Lahore, relatives said. His father, Ghafoor Masih, said suspects Sher Dogar and Muhammad Ali Shahzad have threatened to kill him and other family members if they do not either accept a “blood money” payment or drop the case.

“My son was tortured in front of many villagers, but even the witnesses have backtracked due to threats from the accused and the police, who are acting at their behest,” Masih told Morning Star News. “Sometimes we are offered Diyat [blood money], and at other times threatening messages are conveyed that my sons and I will be killed in a similar manner unless we stop pursuing the matter in courts.

“But even though we are poor laborers, we will not sell our son’s blood and will keep knocking at the doors of justice till his killers are punished.”

The two suspects were released on permanent bail in October after a police investigator told the court that Saleem Masih had died in an accident, he said.

“Despite our hue and cry that our young son was brutally tortured by the accused, the judge admitted the police’s false statement and ordered the release of the accused,” Masih said.

A member of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church USA and resident of Bughyana village in Kasur district, Saleem Masih had finished unloading chaff in fields on Feb. 25, 2020, and was rinsing himself off in the tube-well when property owners Dogar and Shahzad rushed over, yanked him out of the water and began beating him, his father said.

“They cursed and abused Saleem for ‘polluting’ the water, calling him a ‘filthy Christian,’” the elder Masih told Morning Star News at that time. “They then dragged him to their cattle farm, where they chained his hands and feet and continued to torture him with sticks and rods. They also rolled a thick iron rod over his entire body, causing multiple fractures in his left arm and ribs. Saleem couldn’t bear the pain and fell unconscious.”

Saleem Masih died three days later, he said.

Local police sided with the influential landowners from the onset, according to Masih.

“Even on the day my son was tortured, the police discouraged us from registering an FIR [First Information Report] against the accused,” he said. “In fact, the police just looked on when the accused were torturing Saleem and did nothing to rescue him. It was after much pleading that we were allowed to take my unconscious son to the hospital, otherwise he would have succumbed to his injuries on the spot.”

Attorney Shirjeel Zafar of the Lahore High Court said police had so mismanaged the case that justice for Christian family is highly unlikely.

Investigators removed the “most important piece of evidence,” Saleem Masih’s dying declaration against the accused, from the record, Zafar said. Police also tampered with the medical evidence that formed the basis of the post-mortem report, which consequently helped secure bail for the suspects, he said.

The initial FIR was filed in the absence of the family or their lawyer, he said, adding that the name of the second suspect, Shahzad, was included in the case through a supplementary statement 20 days after the victim’s death, which also weakened the case….

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