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A Pakistani Christian man has died whilst in custody of the notoriously brutal police force of Pakistan. Liaquat Masih (47 years) the victim in this recent devastating police crime had been serving as driver for Raza Hameed the son of Gujuranwala politician S.A. Hameed of ‘Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf’ (PTI), for fifteen years. Liaquat has been described as a model employee by other colleagues and was a devout Christian who attended church regularly and held the post of Elder at his local church which is named ‘Roman Catholic Church’.
Sadly on 15th November 2015 he was arrested for theft under circumstances that are suspicious and are alleged to be false by family and friends, who state he was completely innocent and framed because he is a Christian. The allegation came from his employer who accused him of stealing gold from his home, despite the 15 years of loyal unbroken service provided by Liaquat Masih. The family believe this was an attempt to extort the money out of the family to replace the gold that had been stolen from them, as Mr Hameed had no insurance. Arresting officers took him to local police station (PS) Rahwali Cantt and he was later placed on judicial remand at Gujuranwala Prison.
Liaquat Masih was detained without evidence and tortured frequently in hope that he would yield to the police and confess to the crime. However, Liaquat continued to uphold his innocence and the torture increased in severity. On the day of his death his 20 year old son Khurram, who was also arrested and tortured, witnessed his father being hung by his arms and beaten. Finally his weakened and emaciated body (due to poor nourishment in
the cells), gave in to the torture and Liaquat died on 13th January 2016. Sajid Mehmood, Station Head Officer (SHO) spoke to the BPCA, he said:
“The accused man Liaquat had a heart attack so we transported him to the local hospital. Liaquat did not survive the attack.”
Mohammad Amin, Investigation officer, said: “Liaqat Masih was brought to the police station from Gujarnawala prison to answer a further alegation by his former employer. During the investigation, he had a stroke and was taken to the local hospital.”
Liaquat leaves behind his wife Rubina (40 years) and four children, Khurram (20 years), Kinza (15 years), Adeel (12 years), and Zarish (9 years). His wake was held today and hundreds of Christians from across Pakistan attended to share their condolences and show solidarity.
Police officers delayed informing the family of the death by over 24 hours, a process local Christians believe allowed the local constabulary to hide evidence of their wrongdoing and gave an opportunity for preparation and synchronisation of their alibi.
Liaquat Masih’s legs shows scars of police brutality.
Questions are being asked about the death of Liaquat Masih. His death whilst in custody is the fourth incident of a Christian being killed in a prison cell by alleged police brutality, since our inception. Robert Danish was the first reported incident – killed September 15th 2009 (click here).
In all previous cases police refused to investigate police brutality and alleged that the three men had committed suicide. Sadly during court investigation of each and every one of those cases judges determined paucity of evidence prevented action against the perpetrators of the torture. Thus all the police implicated in the violence were exonerated – a judgement we expect to be replicated for the death of Liaquat Masih.
Local Christians were incensed by this alleged murder and refusal by local police to lodge an investigation on the accused police officers responsible for the death of Liaquat Masih. Hundreds of them protested along the Grand Trunk Road in a show of solidarity. Despite the demonstration being peaceful Gujaranwala Police enacted a Lathi (baton) charge and injured two women and 4 young men. Michael Masih one of the victims in the attack, said:
“We were protesting peacefully and simply demanding justice, but police started beating us with sticks, they were indiscriminate and hurt women and children and struck many blows on individuals rather than a single blow to move them on. I am still in pain and have severe bruising, despite the fear that police might attack us again at the wake today, I decided to come out in solidarity.”
Lathi marks remain on throat region of this young man.
Shamim Masih, Lead reporter for the BPCA, said:
“This attack highlights the failure of legal bodies to protect innocent Christians who are a target for persecution. Without evidence a main was detained in a cell for over a month and regularly tortured. This should not happen in any civilised society.”
“Some of the young Christian men were booked by police officer and face charges for stirring up a mob, despite the protest being completely peaceful. These same accused have been threatened with violence to themselves and their families if they pursue any charges against the police. Such police activity is common and is designed to stop dissent so that the prevailing police corruption is never questioned and dissenters are silenced. It is a wholly pernicious act that should be clamped down upon by our government.”
Shamim Masih with the body of Liaquat Masih
Karachi cops and Lahore Law two famous fly on the wall series about the breakdown of law in the eponymous
cities shed light on the application of justice in Pakistan. Perhaps a third series should be named Gujaranwala Guardians [of the law].
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, said:
“The fact that a Christian man could be detained without evidence for so long is a travesty of justice. The police brutality that Liaquat and others suffered causing their death, is enacted in such impunity that there is no incentive for termination. Instead of clamping down on this corruption Pakistani authorities collaborate to brush the concern under the carpet by falsifying evidence and testimonies synchronising police alibis. This ongoing insouciance illustrates the dire status of Pakistani Christians which shows no sign of improving.”
Rubina the wife of Liaquat Masih condemns this latest killing.
Rubina speaks to Shamim Masih of the BPCA.
One of the protesters beaten by police
One of the woman beaten by police during the protest.
Damage on Liaquat’s skull.
Grief-stricken women wailed.
Young children grief-stricken.
Hundreds of visitors attended the wake.
Adeel son of Liaquat Maish is inconsolable he too was arrested and beaten.
Kinza daughter of Liaquat Masih weeps.
We have initiated a fund to fight for justice for this mother. We also wish to contribute towards the funeral costs and to support the family with six months rent at £600 and the school fees at around £30 per month per child, for the children still at school.
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