On 2 August at about 6:30 pm in the evening a 16-year-old Christian boy was brutally beaten by a Muslim gang after witnessing a clash between them and another rival gang.
At 6:30 pm on 2nd August 2018 two gangs of Muslim youths: the Mehboob Alam group and Sherafghan group, had a street fight in front of Vishal Masih’s home. Innocent Christian, Vishal Masih was standing outside his house and saw this fight even though it was over a quickly as it had started. The Mehboob Alam nephews not finished with their contentions and shame-faced at their loss of the fight began a violent attack on Vishal – one that left him unconscious and severely injured.
Vishal Masih, works as a labourer with his father, mother and two brothers. He alleges that since the attack he has not been able to go to work, initially due to injury and since then due to post-traumatic stress disorder resulting in severe anxiety.
A First Incident Report (FIR) was registered at the local police station based at Factory Area District, Sheikhupura against 3 of 5 assailants who abducted and assaulted Vishal Masih. The culprits named in the FIR are Laiq Virk the son of Shafqat Ali Virk, Hussnain Virk and Zulqarnain Virk son of Mohammad Farooq Virk.Two other unknown males are yet to be identified. One suspect is said to now be in custody.
On the evening of the incident, 5 assailants attacked Vishal Masih who was standing at the gate of his house talking on his phone. The 5 attackers accosted Vishal and started beating him viciously with large wooden sticks and other weapons they had in their hands. As they beat him they called him a Christian chura and told him not to watch the affairs of Muslims in an attack that seems to be based on frustration after the loss of a fight. Being a Christian there it is no doubt Vishal would have been viewed as an easy victim to mete out their pent up frustration on. Other local Christians who watched the vicious attack intervened and by outnumbering the boys forced them to stop and to leave the area.
But these 5 assailants were not to be beaten. When all the local Christian community who halted the attack had dispersed they returned to Vishal’s house, broke in through his fore-gate and took Vishal with them to their Haveli (large mansion). On reaching their home the attackers continued to beat and torture Vishal badly.
Some witnesses from the local Christian community who saw the kidnap and followed the assailants informed the father of Vishal, a Mr Karamat Masih (51 years-old), about the incident. Horrified and frightened for his young son Mr Masih called the police emergency hotline on 1122. On receiving the call, police arrived between 20-25 minutes later which is a remarkable response time in Pakistan. He also approached local media and shared the story with the help of some friends.
When the police, led by the Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) of Factory Area Police Station located the kidnap location they found they were being prevented entry to the building by local Muslims, including some very powerful and influential men. However the ASI called for support and soon with the reinforcement team they overpowered the resistance and gained entrance to the building.
After a few moments Vishal was brought out of the property unconscious and he was placed in an ambulance and taken to District Headqurters (DHQ) Hospital in Sheikhupura.
Since the attack a FIR has been registered by the police and BPCA have been offering support and a safe house to the family as they seek justice. The family has been threatened with death if they pursue a case against the Muslim youths involved in the attack, but the family want justice for Vishal. We have set up an appeal and are seeking £150 per month to maintain them in our safe house and £600 to pay for a solicitor who will help them gain justice. If you feel moved to donate to this appeal please (ਇੱਥੇ ਕਲਿੱਕ ਕਰੋ)
ਵਿਲਸਨ ਚੌਧਰੀ ਨੇ ਕਿਹਾ:
“Vishal was a victim of coincidence, he simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sadly for him being a Christian meant he was a soft target for the Muslim community who had just lost a fight.
“It say’s a lot about the perceived value of Pak-Christians by Muslim neighbours who enact violence on the innocent people just because it makes their hurt feel better. To hospitalise a young man and beat him till unconscious takes a lot of brass, but such poor moral character seems to be widespread in Pakistan, a result of poor policing in most cases and assumed impunity.
“I hope Sheikhupura police clamp down hard on the assailants, a custodial sentence must materialise to evidence that the law on the country is not biased but serves even the most vulnerable of minorities fairly.