London: (By Hannah Chowdhry) Shabir Masih prays daily at the church next to his home. He remains a devout Christian and that is what fills him with hope.
A trivial dispute over the right for sewage water to travel past a Muslim shrine, resulted in the killing of a young Christian man and his mother. Read more (here)
In October 2021 almost a year after the murder of Usman Masih RIP (25 yrs) and Yasmeen Bibi RIP (55 yrs), the killer Hasan Shakoor Butt was sentenced to death, however his mother Ishrat Bibi was shown leniency for her age, despite having begun the argument and calling for her son to murder Usman and Yasmeen. Read more (here)
Shabir Masih widower of Yasmeen is now seeking a review of the decision to exonerate Ishrat Bibi, as he comes to terms with having lost his whole family in one devastating day.
On 7th July 2022, BACA team paid a regular visit to Shabir Masih (58 years), the poor father of the deceased Usman Masih who was shot dead because ‘ritually impure’ water from the Christian home passed by an Islamic shrine.
For more than a year, BACA have been providing financial help to Shabir Masih since we first met the family in June 2021.
A successful hearing at Additional and Sessions Court Wazirabad on 9th October 2021, led to a sentence for murder for Hassan Butt (24 yrs) who indiscriminately killed Usman Masih (RIP -26 yrs) and his mother Yasmeen Bibi (RIP – 55 yrs).
Judge Hassan Abbas Syed presided over the court and sentenced Mr Hassan Butt to death by hanging. He is now safely imprisoned at Gujranwala Jail.
Since the sentencing Shakoor Butt (50 yrs), the father of the murderer has been threatening Shabir Masih to accept compensation money and forgive his son Hassan for the murder. This is because Pakistan still maintains its sordid Sharia past and continues with the notorious Qisas and Diyat laws. These laws allow murders and rapists to escape justice by paying a comprise payment. Read more (here).
Shakoor Butt has tried to use influential friends to mediate and has also used significant threats to try and make Shabir Masih agree to a compromise payment. However, Mr Masih has not budged and continues to pursue justice for his slain son and wife.
Shabir Masih spoke to BACA about the attempts to thwart justice by Shakoor Butt, he said:
“Many people have approached me to settle this case with some money and forget the deaths of my wife and son.
“That they think I would be swayed is just disgusting.
“Hassan killed my son and wife before my eyes and now I suffer constant insomnia.
“In my dreams their suffering is replayed over and over again.
“I pray for the day I can join them.”
Mr Masih explained that his cousin Rasheed Masih has been approached more recently afterShabir kept refusing offers of a compromise. He added:
“I have asked my Cousin to ignore outright any request for a compromise deal.“Hassan showed no compassion for Yasmin or Usman and no remorse for their deaths when in court.
“He must pay for his crime and the unwarranted hatred of Christians that he possesses.”
Shabir Masih was not content with the judgement of the court. He feels that Ishrat Bibi the mother of Mr Butt should also be convicted for shouting ‘We will kill you’ at the Christian family when complaining about their sewage water. She also led the attack by beating Yasmin with a stick, resulting in her son coming out and shooting the Christian family.
Shabir Masih has filed an application for a revision of the judgement in High Court Lahore so that Ishrat Bibi should also be convicted for her involvement in the murder or at least for her violence towards Yasmin. An application has also been made to include Hassan’s cousin Khizer Hayat in a trial hearing, for providing the gun.
Shabir Masih further added:
“It pains me to see two culprits escaping justice despite murdering my family.“I will not rest till they also feel the weight of the justice system.”
Mr Masih has now been left all alone. He lost his only son and wife of 30 years and though for a while his daughter-in-law Mariam Bibi (23yrs) resided with him for 8 month, she has now left the family home to be remarried, with the blessing of Mr Masih.
Mariam Bibi’s parents found her a new husband who was willing to accept the two children she had with Usman and she moved to Gujrat. Sadly, for Mr Masih this means he only gets to see his two grand-daughters Guljanat (3 yrs) and Ahma (1.5 yrs) twice a month while travelling 80km there and back on the same day. This is an expensive and arduous journey, but Mr Masih never allows anything to get in the way of his time with his grandchildren.
We continue to support Shabbir financially
Shabbir is currently receiving £50 per month which is being donated to us by a former beneficiary of our charity. Shabbir has asked if it is possible to increase his regular payment so that he is able to visit his grandchildren more often. We would like to send him a further £50 per month If you would like to contribute towards this cost please donate (here).
Mariam and her new husband are always polite and courteous with Mr Masih and Mr Masih still gets on well with Mariam’s parents. Mr Masih has moved away from his former home, because of the bad memories and for his protection.
Mr Masih still works at a local school where he is a cleaner and still receives threats from Umer Butt the youngest brother of Hassan. In March 2022, Umer Butt threatened Mr Masih on his way to the school, he uttered a threat:
“Do you think you have won?
No – count your days [of life].”
Shabir Masih did not reply but instead went to the Ahmad Nagar Police Station and detailed the threatening behaviour of Umer Shakoor. Irfan Bhinder the Station House Officer (SHO) at the Police Station called Shakoor Butt and his son Umer into the station and questioned them about the threat. This resulted in Shakoor Butt filing a counter application against Shabir Masih for keeping a pistol with him to kill Shakoor and his son Umer. Shabir Masih has denied the allegations.
BACA meet with Shabbir Masih regularly.
The police have now warned Umer Butt to stay away from Shabir Masih. A month later, in April 2022, Shakoor Butt illegally occupied a plot of 10 Marla (15m2) which is adjacent to the house of Shabir Masih. The land was exchanged with a plot of the same size which belonged to Shabir in a deal with an aristocratic Muslim named Nawaz Cheema. Nawaz Cheema took Shabir Masih’s land located on the the main road (next to his home) and handed over the plot next to Shabir’s home. This suited both parties even though Shabir’s original land was of a higher value. Nawaz Cheema wanted to build a large home and Mr Masih hoped to enlarge his home one day.
After the land was illegally seized by Shakoor Butt, Shabir Masih approached Nawaz Cheema to intervene and help him regain his land but he flatly refused saying he was afraid of being killed by Shakoor Butt. Mr Masih believes the two are in cahoots and that Mr Cheema has been bribed to say that, as he has no reason to fear Shakoor Butt being very powerful himself.
Mr Masih is struggling to pay for solicitor fees for a civil case against Mr Cheema who never gave him any written papers assigning the land to him. Though for himself Mr Cheema ensured he had obtained signed ownership papers for the land he obtained from Mr Masih.
Shabir now suffers immense loneliness and misses his deceased family.
Mr Masih has asked BACA for help with the cost of a lawyer for a civil case and we have had to refuse based on the longevity of such cases which can take up to 20 years. Moreover due to a paucity of evidence this could be an extremely difficult case for Mr Masih to prove. Our Operations Manager (OM) has suggested that Mr Masih meet with local community leaders and ask them for help as they can have influence in such matters. Our OM will be providing him with assistance in connecting with local leaders.
Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for British Asian Christian Association, said:
“The trauma that Shabbir has been through would have shattered most of us.
“He draws strength in the knowledge that he will be reunited with his wife and son in heaven.
“Irrespective of this, he has explained how lonely he often feels and how much his life has changed since his loved ones were killed.
“His local church has been a beacon of help and their support continues to strengthen him -we thank God for them.
“Please keep Shabbir in your prayers.”