Police deny investigating shot dead Christian rickshaw driver incident
20 Feb 2017
Kasur, Pakistan: February 20, 2017. (PCP) A Christian family in Patoki, in the city of Kasur, Pakistan, have been left depressed and traumatized by the death of a family member who was shot dead whilst driving his rickshaw. Police are refusing to investigate the murder.
On February 8th 2017 at 8am Christian rickshaw driver Shahzad Masih (25 yrs) was about to leave his home when he heard a knocking on his door. Two Muslim men including a Mr Kashif Sheikh who was a close neighbour were outside and asked for Kashif to transport them to a pilgrimage site at the tomb of a Sufi saint which has a famous shrine named Pak Patan Mela.
Shahzad Masih left his home immediately for the journey that should have been 50-60 km with these men, but never returned home.
In the early hours of the following morning his family members contacted close friends and family to see if anyone knew his whereabouts. Their investigation drew no clues of where Shahzad was. So in the afternoon Shahzad's brother Tariq went to the local police station to register a missing persons case.
It was extremely unusual for his brother to be away from home for so long. Moreover the latest that Shahzad would work in the evening would normally be from 11pm - 12am and he had never stayed out overnight previously - especially without informing someone in his family.
After reporting the missing status of Shahzad to Patoki Police, Tariq recieved a call from a police officer an hour later in which he was informed that a dead body had been found in the weeds near Sugar Mill Colony, just off Patoki Malawala Bypass.
Shahzad's whole family along with many friends rushed to visit the site to check whether the corpse belonged to Shahzad. The family was able to confirm that the body was indeed that of Shahzad.
After identification the body was immediately taken to the Patoki Civil Hospital by the police for a postmortem. The family is still to receive the report but they were asked to bury the body immediately by the police.
The family has told us that they saw what looked like a bullet penetration on Shahzad's forehead. They have been chasing Patoki police for a full postmortem report but have regularly been stalled.
Mr Asif (32 years) a cousin of Shahzad has informed police that on Wednesday morning he saw Shezad with Mr. Kashif and one unknown man, passing before his tailor shop near the residence of Shahzad.
Police have registered an FIR on the name of Kashif who was arrested. He is still in police custody but has said he knows nothing about the murder of Shahzad.
Shahzad was about to get married on the 25th February and local police have confiscated the phone of Shahzad's Fiance Samina. The family state the police are pursuing lines of inquiry focusing on a potential suicide after a lovers tiff and investigating whether anyone had been paid to kill Shahzad due to a desire to marry someone else. Police have stated that the Fiancé made a call to Shahzad at 10am, which was one hour after he left home. They have focused their investigation on this evidence. However Samina states it was an extremely short call in which Shahzad informed her that he was busy with customers and the family believes such investigation illustrates a half-hearted approach to gaining justice for Shahzad.
Police sent the phone of Shahzad for a data scan and discovered only the conversation with his fiancée. Nothing suspicious was found yet now Samina's phone has also been sent for the investigation and a report is awaited.
The family are concerned that Kashif is staying silent and denying any involvement in the murder of Shahzad and that Police seem to be taking his side and not pursuing fervently enough a potential murder inquiry involving him. They believe this is due to a bias towards Muslims.
According to the family the police investigation is very disingenuous. Little effort is being placed in finding a culprit and much resource is being put towards delivering a verdict of suicide. The investigation officers name is Mr. Iqbal and SHO of that police station is Haji Akram, both will be approached by our officer Kanwal Amar tomorrow that we might seek a more thorough investigation of a potential murder.
Tariq Masih, spoke with the BPCA, he said: "I am totally demoralized by the lack of impetus shown by the police. They seem determined to label my brother’s death as a suicide but he was the most successful of us and was to be married in a few weeks.
"I am a simple sewage worker earning very little, Shahzad was earning good money and hoped one day to run his own business. We were all so proud of him we are devastated by news of his death."
Wilson Chowdhry. Chairman of the BPCA, said: "Shahzad's death is shrouded in mystery, but illustrates the vulnerability of Christians. In most murder cases involving a Christian victim, police authorities in Pakistan apply the least amount of effort possible into investigation.
"This exhibited insouciance by the police has resulted in levels of impunity that have made our minority the most targeted in Pakistan.
"Is it therefore any surprise that international NGO 'Open Doors' on their world watch list rank Pakistan the 4th worst country in the world for Christian persecution?
"Sadly time after time the same situation arises confirming little is being done by politicians in Pakistan to address the balance."