A man arrested for the murder of his wife was allegedly found dead with his throat slit in the communal inmate toilets of Jhang city police station, on Wednesday 5th September 2018.
The police authority immediately sent out a press release stating that Ishaq Maseeh had committed suicide by slitting his own throat with a sharp knife, after having sought permission to use the washrooms at the police station lock-up.
Ishaq Maseeh was a resident of Christian Colony, in Jhang and had been arrested by police for the alleged murder of his wife last week, during a domestic dispute. After being arrested Ishaq Maseeh was taken to City Police station.
According to Jhang Police, on Wednesday night, Maseeh told the policemen on duty that he needed to go to toilet and was given permission
However, when he did not come out of the toilet, the policemen entered the toilet cubicle and allegedly found Ishaq lying in a pool of blood with his throat slit. On a closer inspection, they found that he was dead, claimed the police.
On being informed of the incident, senior police officials rushed to the police station and immediately carried the body to the District Headquarters Hospital for an autopsy. Results from this post mortem examination have not yet been released.
District Police Officer Shakir Hussain has already began an internal investigation and four policemen have been suspended as they are being investigated for negligence. Moreover a show cause order has been placed on the station house officer (SHO) who has to appear before court to explain why he should not be prosecuted.
Ishaq Maseeh’s family have stated that he had protested his innocence and had not been involved in the murder. They state that Ishaq Maseeh believes he had been framed for the murder of his wife who exhibited signs of rape prior to murder. Moreover, they have also raised concern about the welts and bruises on Ishaq Maseeh’s body which would suggest some violent foul play. Ishaq Maseeh is now the 7th Christian in 8 years to have been killed whilst in custody of the Police, a statistic that in itself is a poor indictment of the justice system of Pakistan.
In December 2017, Usman Masih was found dead whilst in custody, in the 6th incident of a Christian being killed in a prison cell by alleged police brutality since our inception in 2009. 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) and then on 11th March 2015 we reported on the murder of Zubair Rashid (click here), then on 15th January 2016 Liaquat Masih was killed (click here). Usman joins a growing list of falsely accused martyrs in Pakistan.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:
“The number of Christians killed in police custody is remarkably high and evidences police intolerance towards pariah Christians.
“Ishaq Maseeh will now not have his day in court to fight for justice and we will never know if he was guilty or innocent. The murder and rape of his wife is not likely receive a proper investigation.
“Either way the duty of care that should have been applied to Ishaq has been found to be forfeit and a thorough investigation is required to ascertain how this death was allowed to happen and whether there is any evidence of foul play.
“Suspending officers is a good start, however our expectation is that after a short ‘holiday’ the four officers and the SHO who has been called to court to account for himself will be exonerated and allowed to recommence their employment.
“It is the continual negligence of higher authorities and the courts to tackle police brutality in Pakistan, especially towards Christians and other minorities that has allowed the impunity to grow and reciprocally the number of violent and fatal incidents.
“The fact remains that Christians cannot get justice in Pakistan and if implicated in a crime, they often are hurtling towards impending death.”