By Jawad Mazhar, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent reporting from Pakistan
SARGODHA, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)-- Police in a slum area of northeastern Pakistan "tortured" a Christian man to death on trumped up charges of bootlegging, his family said Thursday, August 6.
Police of the impoverished Factory Area in the city of Sargodha detained and tortured 46-year old Shafiq Masih, also known as Shafiya, on suspicion of bootlegging, although Pakistani Christians are issued with permits to keep liquor and drink alcoholic beverages, relatives told BosNewsLife.
"Why police tortured him to death?" witnesses said, speaking on condition of anonymity about the July 12 incident . Eye witnesses and other residents of the run-down 'Noori Gate Christian Colony' within the Factory Area said police beat him "in such a ruthless manner that skin of his feet was devoured and bleeding."
The man allegedly sustained serious injuries before being rushed to Sargodha's District Headquarters Hospital where he died, Christian resident Salamat Masih told BosNewsLife.
Under the officer's pressure, "Masih’s Children agreed that their father died of cardiac arrest, although scars of injuries were clearly telling that he was subjected to immense physical torture," he added.
Masih said authorities paid $7,564 in local currency to three heirs "to ensure that they do not take any sort of legal action against him and insist for autopsy."
Some Christian residents said he was killed by police on the request of his former Muslim wife.
Police officials had no comment.
The incident is the latest in a series of a reported crackdown by police or Islamic militants on impoverished Christians in Pakistan's Punjab province.