The uncovering of 45 bones on 22nd October in Jaranwala, Pakistan confirmed the unspeakable horror of the death of a Christian boy of only 12 years of age.
Shahbaz Masih father of Iftikhar Masih (RIP) had been informed of a confession by the murderers made at a community meeting of leaders 0n 20th October. This led to a call to local police who arrested and interrogated the murders resulting in the the macabre discovery.
British Asian Christian Association are now providing the legal cover needed to make sure a conviction ensues.
Iftikhar Masih (12 yrs) was sitting at home having lunch at his home around 1pm on 22nd August when his friend Muhammad Ahmad Sultan (17 yrs) called on him to join with a few other Muslim friends for a bath at a nearby tube well. Iftikhar joined them after telling his mother he was going to bathe in the well.
Later in the evening around 6:00 pm Shahbaz Masih (45 yrs) returned from work at a vegetable market. He was surprised that Iftikhar was not at home and his wife Parveen Bibi (40 yrs) who is deaf-mute explained that Iftakhar had gone out to the tube-well but had not returned yet.
Shahbaz left his home to call Iftikhar home but when he arrived at the tube-well neither Iftikhar or any of the boys where there. Shahbaz travelled to the homes of Iftikhar’s friends and relatives to find out where he was. At the home of his brother Babar Masih (40 yrs) his nephew Adnan Masih (10 yrs) told his uncle that he had seen Iftikhar, Ahmad Sultan and other friends going to the tube-well.
Shahbaz Masih then journeyed to the house of Ahmad Sultan and inquired about his missing son. To his shock and dismay Ahmad Sultan, denied any knowledge of where his son was. His last hope of finding Iftikhar was dashed. Ahmad Sultan spoke to the father at the time and said:
“I left him taking bath at the tube-well and don’t know where he is now”
A very worried and anxious Shahbhaz Masih along with his brother Babar Masih and other elders and family members kept on searching for Iftikhar around the wider periphery of the tube-well. They knocked on the homes of local villagers and asked local people in the area if Iftikhar seen. Shahbaz Masih spoke with one of our officers about that first night, he said:
“The search continued until midnight but none of us could find any clue of the whereabouts of Iftikhar.”
“Parveen and I could not sleep for the whole cruel night.
“My wife cried till morning, we were very broken.”
For another two days the parents kept going with the search for Iftikhar, they visited local bus stops on the main road, they asked at his school, at shops and at local places where Iftikhar used to play. But their search was fruitless.
On 24th August, Shahbaz Masih and Babar Masih went to City Police Station Jaranwala to report Iftikhar as missing. The police registered a First Information Report (FIR) No. 830/21 under section 363 PPC for kidnap against unknown culprits. The police advised the parents to keep on their search for Iftikhar while they conducted their own investigations.
|Punishment for kidnapping:
Whoever kidnaps any person from Pakistan or from lawful guardianship, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Suspicion began to build around Ahmad Sultan and the other Muslim boys with Iftikhar at the Tube well. The next day Shahbaz Masih contacted the elders of Ahmad Sultan and the other boys to inquire about any information being withheld. The family elders confirmed that Ahmad Sultan and the other boys with Iftikhar were innocent of any wrongdoing and knew nothing that could help.
Muhammad Akram father of Ahmad Sultan even gave an oath in the local mosque confirming that his son Ahmad Sultan, had nothing to do with Iftikhar Masih going missing. Shahbaz Masih, said:
“This forced us to keep silent about our suspicions as we did not want the Muslims of the village to turn against us”
In the meanwhile, for two months Shahbaz Masih and his family kept on searching for Iftikhar. They frequently visited the local police station but little seemed to be done to locate their missing son.
Things changed on 19th October however, after a theft of 10,000 rupees at a wedding ceremony in the village. There is a practice of giving money away to local village children at weddings as part of the ceremony, and when a guest tried to take some cash out of his wallet, he found the wallet was missing. Suspicion immediately fell on Ahmad Sultan and his cohorts. They were notorious in the village for pickpocketing scams and were all seen collecting the dispersed money that was being given away at the wedding.
The young boys were told to attend a panchayat (local meeting of elders) and while there a group of boys in the gang who had not received their share of the money, testified against Ahmad Sultan and a few of the ring leaders. They also informed the gathered leaders that the same boys had sodomised and murdered Iftikhar. When questioned on the murders all 4 accused boys confessed to their crimes.
Shahbaz Masih, said:
“One part of this group of boys clashed over money that should have been split with them.
“Haider Ali one of the gang members warned the perpetrators of the crime that he would reveal the truth if no paid his share of the stolen money.
“During the pressure of the panchayat he testified about the theft and murder implicating Ahmad Sultan and three others.
“The murderers then all confessed.
“The four murderers later led Police to my boy’s body and only bones were recovered.”
Malik Sardar the leader of elders holding the panchayat on hearing about the murder called Shahbaz Masih to the meeting. He heard the young boys confess to the murder of his son and they and there families began to implore his forgiveness and offered large bribes. The Muslim leaders in the Panchayat supported Shahbaz Masih and protected the distraught father as he dialled 15 and requested the attendance of local police. Detailing the gory details of what he heard which was reciprocated by panchayat leaders led the the arrest of Ahmad Sultan, Ali Husnain (17 yrs), Haider Ali (15 yrs) and Azeem (21 yrs). The police remanded them under their custody and took them to City Police Station in Jaranwala for detainment. There under interrogation the four boys confessed to the murders and they informed the police where they hid the carcass of Iftikhar.
On 22nd October, the police brought the culprits back into the village and called Shahbaz Masih to identify any remains. Shabhaz Masih was able to identify the clothes of Iftikhar which the police recovered from a field of sugar cane in which he had been murdered, they also brought out the bones of Iftikhar which have been forensically analysed and the DNA test has proven them to be those of Iftikhar.
Shahbhaz Masih, described the day his son’s remains were found, he said:
“Police went into a nearby sugar cane field with the culprits and brought out the clothes of Iftikhar, which I was able to recognize.
“They went back inside again and brought out 45 bones which they said were all that remains of Iftikhar.
“I just wept.
“Obviously I could not identify my boy but what hurt most was that not one piece of flesh remained of my son.
“I don’t know if these crazy boys ate my son or chopped of his flesh while he was alive, or whether it was animals.
“I just know that he is now no longer on this earth and will no longer face their evil torture.
“My hope is to see my son in heaven when I meet our father, I thank Him for his mercy.”
During the police investigation, the culprits confessed their crimes and told police that they sodomised Iftikhar in the sugar cane farm. When Iftikhar threatened them that he would tell his father of the rape, they strangled him and dumped his dead body amongst the sugar cane. It is not yet known how the flesh from the carcass of Iftikhar has vanished so quickly.
British Asian Christian Association spoke with Major Saleem Akhter of the Salvation Army Church that Iftikhar attended. He said:
“Iftikhar was a regular church goer and very active at Sunday School.”
“Iftikhar was a very innocent and caring child always the first to volunteer and a very actively participant in church activities.
“Hs death at such a young age has been a real shock to us.
“We pray for justice for him”
Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for British Asian Christian Association, said:
“As a mother I feel terrible – it’s every parents worst nightmare that their child would be killed.
“To be unable to say your last goodbye is painful but having only bones to bury is purely tragic.
“We are concerned that the police response to a missing child was minimal – they did not even begin searching after two months.
“Had it not been down to a confession these murderers would have got away with their macabre crime.
“Local police have provided no support barring posting bones to the parents for burial in a plastic bag.
“It will take decades of campaigning before missing children receive adequate response from Pakistani authorities.
“We will continue to do what we can to highlight concerns to encourage change.”
The family will still need British Asian Christian Association to provide a lawyer to bring this case to conclusion. The cost is expensive because their are 4 culprits and we need your help to make this happen. If you have been moved by this story then please donate (here) Since the current Prime Minister Imran Khan has been in power we have had several successes. It would seem slow change is occurring which will end the current sense of impunity that murderers have had. We pray for a date when criminal cases like this do not need to be championed by the families of the deceased but by the state of Pakistan.