Pakistan Christian Worker Dies In Police Custody

 

By Jawad Mazhar, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent reporting from Pakistan

Pakistan's devoted Christians face persecution, including from law enforcement officials, church groups and rights activists say.


LAHORE, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)-- Impoverished frail parents were still awaiting justice Monday, June 14, for the death of their son who they and Christian investigators said died of "mental and physical torture" while in police custody in the city of Lahore.

The death of 30-year-old Pervez Masih, a Christian worker, has added to concerns over alleged police brutality against minorities in Pakistan's Punjab province.

Masih died May 8 after being held at Lahore's Baghbanpura Police on alleged trumped up charges of stealing bricks from his employer, Christians said.

"While Pervez Masih and other Christian laborers were unloading the bricks a flashing Baghbanpura police vehicle arrived at the scene," explained his relative, Ashraf Masih Ghauri.

"Police seized the truck and the bricks and handcuffed Pervez Masih" on apparently false charges of stealing, "without any solid evidence," added Punjab's Christian legislator Tahir Naveed Chaudhary, who investigated the case.

POLICE "TORTURE"

"Baghbanpura Police mercilessly subjected Pervez Masih to the vicious mental and physical torture, to make him confess of a theft crime he did not commit," he told BosNewsLife. The man eventually died of the fatal injuries he received, he said.

Ghauri said he had been trying to "secure his liberty" when Masih’s condition turned critical. "Police tried to shift him to a hospital but no hospital was ready to admit Pervez Masih," he added.

Ghauri, who recalled he was "chasing policing vehicles" on his motorbike, claimed Masih died of his injuries. "Police stopped and pulled me over and showed his his dead body just off the road. They said Pervez had died of cardiac arrest, but I know they were hiding the truth."

Local police later shifted the dead body of Pervez Masih into the morgue for a post-mortem, his parents said. "He was our only hope."

POLICE INVESTIGATION

Police officials confirmed they had been investigating the case after Ashraf Masih Ghauri filed an official complaint against law enforcement personnel. No wrongdoing was uncovered, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not allowed to talk to reporters.

Tahir Naveed Chaudhary expressed his doubts and suggested that police were trying to cover up a crime. Masih, who was also known by his nickname Shoka was a single hard working man, he recalled.

"Being a good son he used to work hard as a labor on a bricks transporting truck to win bread and butter for his desperately poor parents."

The death is the latest in a series of reported attacks against Christians, that rights groups claims are often carried out by Muslim extremists with the support of local police forces.

By Jawad Mazhar, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent reporting from Pakistan

LAHORE, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)-- Impoverished frail parents were still awaiting justice Monday, June 14, for the death of their son who they and Christian investigators said died of "mental and physical torture" while in police custody in the city of Lahore.

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