Toba Tek Singh: A Christian father of five children was beaten to death by police officers, who it is alleged where attempting to thwart justice in a murder case that involved a Muslim man with strong family connections within the local police authority.
Younis Masih (58 yrs) was beaten during a police interrogation at his home at approximately 1am on 21st June 2020, after being falsely investigated for drug dealing with two sons. This was despite no evidence of any wrongdoing being found after a search of his home and no previous history of any crime. During the search of his home Younis Masih was hit hard in the chest at least five times and had a charpai (string bed) pushed into his chest. He spoke of severe pain and discomfort and was ignored by police officers who went on to arrest two of his sons.
Younis suffered the ignominy of his sons being wrongfully arrested and complained about severe pains in hus chest. Pains which he 1 hour later succumbed to, passing away from this life at approximately 2am.
During the search of the family home Younis Masih and his five sons were tortured by the investigating police officers who were, shouting insults, slapping and punching them. In order to enter the family home they had been shouting loudly and shooting their guns in the air despite the early hours.
It is alleged by the family of Younis Masih that the fabricated allegations of drug dealing were a ruse in order to scare his son Waqar (23 yrs) from testifying against murderer Mr Shahzaib Jutt, who is being investigated for the murder of Younas Masih's nephew.
In 2018 a Christian boy name Khurram Masih broke into fight with Shahzaib Jutt in the village of Gojra Chak No. 367 District Toba Tak Singh on a very minor issue. This resulted into the death of Khurram (30 yrs) and bullet injuries to the arm of Khurram’s cousin Waqar Younis (24 yrs).
The family of Khurram Masih registered an FIR against Shahzaib Butt, and he was arrested by police based at Saddar Police Station, Toba Tek Singh. Khurram’s cousin Waqar became one of the eyewitnesses for the case and since then Shahzaib has been looking for ways to pressurize Waqar from testifying against him at court.
Younas Masih's family say that Shahzaib Butt's family bribed local police and on 21 June 2020 Arif Jutt a police constable from the Ghulumabad Police Station, Toba Tek Singh along with 6 additional police officers entered the house of Younas Masih (Paternal uncle of Khurram) at 1am and started threatening the family claiming that they had received reports of drug dealing from the family home.
It is alleged that police began to search the house for drugs and any drug-related paraphernalia and caused great disruption to the home of Younas Masih as they threw furniture around, emptied draws onto the floor and began to interrogate members of the household.
When they could not find anything incriminating, they started torturing Younis Masih and his 5 sons, asking them to reveal the location of the illicit goods. Later they took two of Younis's sons, Arslan (23 yrs) and Kawish (18 yrs) to Faisalabad's, Ghulam Abad police station.
During the search of his home Police hit Younis with great force several times on his chest, the impact of which was too much for Younis who died later in the evening. On realising that they had gone too far after news of the death of Younis reached the police station, officers released the two sons immediately.
Arslan Younis spoke with BACA, he said;
"The police were brutal, they were treating my brother and I inhumanely.
"They pushed us around, cursed and shouted out insults while slapping and punching us.
"We were told that unless we paid a bribe of 1 lac pkr (700 uk pounds) we would not be released and that our treatment by them would become more severe.
"We were frightened and in pain - it's an experience I never want to go through again."
"We are poor people and know we have few rights.
"When news of my father's death spread through the jail, the police panicked and released us immediately.
"They did not confirm whether or not my father was alive or dead.
"We prayed all night hoping that the rumours of dad's death were false.
"My world shattered when in the morning we received confirmation of his death - I am still broken by the news."
The family buried their father the next day as is custom, and then registered a First Incident Report (FIR) at Saddar Police Station. During the next week no police officers were arrested and the family began to receive a large number of very deliberate threats. Their mother became scared that she would lose a son too and the family followed her wishes and excepted a compromise bribe in lieu of their father death under the notorious Qissat and Diyas laws of Pakistan.
"My mother went into a deep trauma and depression.
"She could not cope with the pressure of the threats and we could not watch her suffer anymore, we were already reeling from dad's death.
"We withdrew the case knowing full well that in Pakistan there was no hope for justice.
"Moreover, our dad is now in heaven with the Lord our God, we will see him again.
"Dad knows we love him, earthly justice does nothing to change that."
In the meanwhile Khurram’s murder case is still going on and though Shahzaib has been in jail for two years, there is no guarantee he will be convicted for murder. He continues to threaten both Christian families through his large family and friend base. He is a wealthy landlord and can afford to make the lives of both families very uncomfortable, even from his cell.
Juliet Chowdhry, said: "It is abhorrent that the police officers will not face any charges of wrongdoing despite the death of an innocent man.
"The fact that murderers can pay their way out of justice is a despairing facet of the Pak-Christian justice system.
"I do not blame the family of Younis Masih for accepting the compromise - they were receiving frequent and very dangerous threats.
"The Black Lives Matter campaign has grown exponentially after the murder of George Floyd - now we need support for Christian lives which matter just as much."