London: With help from British Asian Christian Association, the mother and father of Saleem Masih continue to fight for justice for their murdered son.
Saleem Masih (22 yrs) was beaten to death for rinsing himself off in the tube well of Muslim land owners in Chunia District, Kasur. It should be noted that many Muslim men have been permitted to rinse themselves off in the well for many years, however it was the fact that a ‘ritually unclean’ Christian dared to use the well in this fashion that led to his murder. Read more (here)
On 10th April, The Additional Sessions Judge, Miss Ayesha Khalid after having been convinced by the strong arguments from our solicitor Miss Sumaira Hussain ordered the inclusion of Shera Dogar, Ali Shehzad and Haji Mushtaq into the murder investigation and trial process.
Ali Shehzad and Shera Dogar, after repeated orders from Chunia Tehsil (Town) Court, finally presented themselves on 28th May. These men were initially excluded from the original police investigation and the father of Saleem, Mr Ghafoor Masih alleges that he has been told by the murderers that the investigation officer was bribed. From the outset there have been problems Mr Masih also alleges that Police asked him to sign some blank paper which later was produced in the court with a false compromise to exclude Shera Dogar and Ali Shehzad the main culprits from the police investigation. Mr Masih states that he has never desired a compromise with the murderers and wants to see justice fulfilled for his son.
With the inclusion of these culprits, police have had to re-investigate the case which will be scrutinized for corruption. It is believed that police shall also specify the names of weapons used to murder innocent Saleem Masih.
The men then failed to present at several court hearings despite being summoned by multiple times. Judge Ayesha Khaild at the request of our Solicitor Sumaira Hussain then gave them an ultimatum to arrive at the next hearing on 17th June or face a judgement against them.
The men finally appeared before the court again at the hearing on 17th June and Judge Miss Ayesha Khalid ordered them to submit surety bonds worth 100,000 Rs each, to ensure they wouldn't flee their trial.
Shera Dogar, Ali Shehzad and Haji Mushtaq have now all paid their surety bonds which were submitted on 6th of July.
The next hearing for this case is fixed for 3rd of August 2021 when the courts will hear the statements of the three accused men.
Ghafoor Masih, said:
"With an iron rod in their hands they hit my son on his collar bone and waist.
"Altaf hit the chin of my son with a thick iron chain which caused enormous bleeding and bone trauma.
"The father of Haji Mushtaq watched as he instructed his sons and his employees on how to beat my son Saleem."
Since the men have been released on bail they have been telling people how they have no fear of repercussions. They have said Christians can't get justice against Muslims and have said that they have the money and clout to beat the justice system.
Ghafoor Masih, told us about the threats he was receiving, He said
"While we left court they shouted out towards me, they yelled: 'We are out on bail'.
"They also shouted 'We have connections everywhere -You cannot harm us Ghafoor'
"Later some of their friends and family told me to accept a bribe and look after my remaining family well.
"I was told there is no way a Choora (derogatory term meaning dirty Christians) can get justice.
"It was made clear that if I did not except the bribe I could expect danger."
Ghafoor Masih, added:
“Though police favoured the culprits and made every possible effort to weaken my case, the solicitor provided by BACA has brought these men back into a trial.
"I am convinced that God will see these men face justice."
Accused and their specific role in murder.
Here is a list of the violent crimes of the men involved in Saleem Masih's muder as described to Ghafoor Masih in his son's dying words:
Ghafoor was told that Haji Razaq and his four sons Haji Mushtaq, Haji Altaf. Mohammad Jabar and Muhammad Iqbal were all involved in the attack.
Haji Mushtaq had been instructing his sons to tie Saleem with rope while he himself had been kicking punching Saleem and then kicked him in the belly when he fell.
Haji Altaf attacked Saleem with an iron chain which broke the hip bone of Saleem.
Haji Mushtaq and Haji Altaf tied him with rope and kicked and punched Saleem several times.
Mohammad Iqbal and Jabar have been rolling iron rods over Saleem's body
Shera Dogar is the owner of the tube well from where these men captured Saleem and the murder happened in his haveli (mansion) while he watched and egged the men on.
Ali Shehzad’s residence is close the mansion of Shera Dogar, he was called by the sons of Haji Razaq and he came some of his henchmen. They attacked Saleem with iron rods which broke the arm of Saleem when he tried to block his attack.
Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for British Asian Christian Association, said:
"There have been many delays and postponements to this case but we believe that justice will be served.
"The men involved in the attack have never denied killing Saleem Masih they have tried to wriggle out of a sentence by paying a compromise bribe under Pakistan's notorious Qisas and Diyat Laws.
"The Judge has accepted that the men must go through trial and so far accepted that the compromise deal attempt was fraudulent.
"In most cases you would think this is a forgone conclusion but in Pakistan we still need your prayers for a fair decision."
If you have been moved by this story and would like to help us support this family and many other Christian families subjected to undue persecution in Pakistan.