By BosNewsLife Asia Service
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– Pakistani police have allegedly tortured to death a devoted Christian man because of his faith, the latest in a series of violent incidents against minority Christians in Pakistan.
Tariq Masih, a married father of seven children, was murdered Monday, January 25, after being abducted and tortured by police at a police station in the city of Muridke in Punjab province, Christian officials said.
“I pledged to stand with Tariq’s family and I will strive for justice because I know he was Christian and for this reason he was killed,” said Sardar Mushtaq Gill, director of the Punjab-based Christian advocacy group Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD).
Police have reportedly denied wrongdoing, saying the Christian man was detained and died “due to a heart attack”. More details were not immediately available.
Widow Rukhsana Bibi has filed an official complaint against four alleged perpetrators, two of whom were publicly identified as Tuheed-Ur-Rehman and Muhammad Nawaz. The names of the other suspects were not immediately released. None of those allegedly involved in the killing were detained yet, Gill told BosNewsLife.
Tariq’s family have reportedly attributed his death to police torture, saying he was abducted and murdered and later, “they threw the dead body at home.”
Hezkial Sharafat, a priest at Muridke Church, said in published remarks that the wife of Tariq Masih “is under a heavy burden of grief and unable to talk”.
Gill said he had urged Christians to support LEAD in “its fight for justice for those who are persecuted”.
He said “timely action” was needed, amid concerns over several violent attacks against Christians and churches linked to militants and their supporters in this heavily Islamic nation, where several believers are detained on what friends view as trumped-up charges of “blasphemy against Islam.”
Thousands of Christians have fled Pakistan in recent years, including to Thailand, where the face an uncertain future, according to rights activists and community members.