Another Christian man has been killed whilst in Police custody in an incident that is remarkably similar to previous ones. This victim is the first on record to not have had a blasphemy charge laid against him, he was accused of theft of a battery.
Farman Masih a 25 year old Christian man was found dead in a stream on Saturday 18th April 2015, after a bungled police arrest apparently allowed him to plunge to his death whilst trying to escape. Or so say Pakistani mainstream media.
Reports suggest that Mr Masih was arrested at his home by the Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) Shahid Munir, after he had been accused of a series of car battery thefts.
An Express Tribune reports states:
“The SHO claimed that police officials arrested him in battery theft case and one battery was recovered from his possession. When the police questioned him about the remaining batteries, he took them to the place where he sold them off. When the ASI and the suspect got there, “he leapt towards the stream. The policeman gave chase but was unable to catch him”. The officer said the police are still unsure whether the suspects had died or managed to escape.”
However the BPCA find this report to be implausible. Primarily since the suspect was handcuffed and would have found it extremely difficult to escape the team of Police officers that the family have alleged arrested him and brutally tortured him, before their very eyes. Moreover, the man was local to the area and would have definitely known the depth of the stream as, like most streams in Pakistan, young men are often seen swimming in them.
The family claim that Police officer treatment of the suspect was extremely harsh and that they witnessed police officers pushing Mr Masih into the stream. The family are said to have searched the stream for the body of Mr Masih immediately after the incident and to have called Police and rescue services to assist with the search, to no avail.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, said:
“This is not the first time a Christian man has lost his life whilst in Police custody, nor will it be the last. Pakistani law enforcement authorities seem to enact punishments at will, with impunity, as their ‘fraternity’ is ostensibly ‘above the law.’
“It seems ridiculous to me that a suspect who has been handcuffed and is in the presence of a team of Police officers could generate enough strength and speed to escape them? I am also appalled at the audacity of police officers who returned the dead suspect to the bereaving family without the removal of the handcuffs, that took his liberty away from him and ultimately led to his death. The image in this post clearly illustrates Police malpractice on this level if nothing else, and I hope that Police authorities have enough self respect to at least apologise for this obvious slight.”
Pakistan ratified the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 2010, but despite this legal framework, Pakistan is bereft of any penalties for torture. Legislation has been drafted and needs to be ratified through parliament, however many key legal experts believe that the draft law is full of loopholes that do not fit well with the convention.
Christian Men killed whilst in Police custody:
Robert Danish was the first reported incident – killed September 15th 2009 (click here). We later reported the death of Qamar David in similar circumstances – killed 15th March 2011 (click here). Zubair Rashid Masih was killed after his mother was accused of stealing money and gold jewellery from her employers on 4th March this year! (click here)