Pakistani Police deny to register case of kidnapping and torture of ex-brick kiln worker
11 May 2017
London: May 11, 2017. (PCP) A 35 year old Christian former slave has been kidnapped and tortured by his ex-master who is seeking a large ransom for lost revenue despite the family alleging they paid off the loan they borrowed.
Salim Masih took a loan of 10,000 rupees (£120) from Sheikh Mustafa over a year ago and agreed that he and his wife Salam (28 years) would work at Mr Mustafa's brick kilns at Phatak gunje khudiya, Kasur for the duration of one year at an agreed rate. After having worked for the year it was agreed that their loan would be totally settled.
Every day whilst the couple were working on the brick kiln they were asked to convert to Islam by Muslim co-workers none of whom were slaves. They were beaten and hard to work over 12 hours a day,7 days a week with only a 30-minute break.
After the year had been completed in accordance with their agreement they left the brick kiln late at night without informing their master. They choose to leave in secret as they knew how other Christians had been betrayed and cheated by slave masters who reneged on emancipating their slaves at the end of contracts.
They had planned and awaited their date to leave for a very long time and headed straight for another brick kiln where they worked without the yoke of slavery.
Life became very settled and instead of working their children at the new kilns the family sent Anum (8 yrs), Naveed (5 yrs), Nabeel (4 yrs), to school and even dared to hope for a brighter future for their family.
However, after three months of relative bliss the beleaguered family were located by Sheikh Mustafa who sent two henchmen named Babar and Munshi, who on the 21st of April arrived at Salim's home. The two brutes beat and tortured Salim in front of his wife Salma and children children and threatened to rape them before him.
After a two-hour distressing ordeal, the two men took Salim away from the family home and back to Sheikh Mustafa's kilns. Before they left however they left a very clear warning to his wretched wife stating that they either find 40,000 rupees (£479) to free Salim, which is four times the amount the family borrowed or Salim would be killed.
Salma immediately went to Khudiya Police Station but officers there refused to register a crime, leaving Sama in total despair. Salma is concerned that the delay may mean her husband Salim is already dead. She believes that the Police are refusing to take action against the brick kiln owners as they have been bribed and because she is a lowly 'kaffir' (infidel).
Some brick kiln workers knew about our work in emancipating brick kiln workers and suggested Salma get in contact with us. Though we are working our way through a very long list of slaves who want freedom we gave special priority to Salma due to the danger to her husband.
Salma said: "I have cried and prayed every day since Salim was taken from me. I have no idea if he is still alive and my children ask me time after time.
"My children and I had to watch Salim being beaten and we are still traumatised. The pain will not go away till Salim is returned to us.
"We paid off Sheikh Mustafa's debt through hard work over a year. We waited till our loan had been completed before leaving as we did not want any anger.
"We only wanted a better future but the cruel man has destroyed our hope."
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said: "A man's life is in danger and Pakistani police authorities choose to do nothing about it - this story sounds so similar.
"It is simply atrocious that statutory agencies can be bribed so easily or simply collude with perpetrators of violence to Christians due to ingrained prejudice.
"Police have stated they will not get involved in the matter as the family are owing a 40,000-rupee debt to the brick kiln owners. However, kidnap is a very distinct crime and debt recovery laws in Pakistan do not permit extra-judicial detainment.
"Moreover, the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1992 clearly stipulates that brick kiln slavery is outlawed. Prescribed procedures and powers of arrest exist for those who flaunt the law - Police must be made to enact this law.
He added: "We have contacted the Pakistani High Commission and have asked them to intervene with the Police authorities. We hope with their help to counteract the existing police malaise.
"The delay however, may well mean attempts to save Salim are too late. We are hoping and praying for a miracle and for justice for a family that have already paid too much to a tyrant."