The family of a Christian youth murdered by corrupt Police in Sheikhupura, Punjab may get some rare justice through the highly biased legal system of Pakistan,
in which Christians are normally denied a fair trial.
Police officers have been arrested and charged under section 148, 149 and 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and are detained at Saddar Police Station,
while they await transfer to a jail.
Rioting, armed with deadly weapon: Whoever is guilty of rioting, being armed with a deadly weapon or with anything which, used as a weapon of offence, is likely to cause
death, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object: If an offence is committed by any member of an unlawful assembly in prosecution of the common object of that assembly, or such as the members
of that assembly knew to be likely to be committed in prosecution of that object, every person who, at the time of the committing of that
offence, is a member of the same assembly, is guilty of that offence
Punishment of qatl-i-amd (Aggravated Murder): Whoever commits qatl-e-amd shall, subject to the provisions of this Chapter be:
punished with death as qisas (retributive justice);
punished with death or imprisonment for life as ta'zir ( punishment for offenses at the discretion of the judge (Qadi) or ruler
of the state) having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case, if the proof in either of the forms specified in
Section 304 is not available; or
punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to twenty-five years, where according to the injunctions
of Islam the punishment of qisas is not applicable113[:]113
Arslan Masih was killed after having been dragged out of a classroom by a band of Police intent on getting revenge on the young Christian, after he prevailed
in a fight with one of the Muslim boys who had been bullying him at school. One of the police officers was also an uncle of the Muslim boy who Arslan beat
in the fight and apparently found it unacceptable that Arslan had stood up to and bested his nephew. Detective Constable Sardar, could not bear the fact
that a Christian touched a Muslim despite Arslan being forced to defend himself in the altercation that was initiated by the Muslim pupil.
It transpired that Arslan was being bullied regularly and had only got into the fight in an attempt to stop the daily torment he was receiving from the
Muslim pupils who, his father Mushtaq Masih has informed us, were attempting to convert Arslan to Islam.
Mushtaq Masih shared information about his son’s death. In keeping with his narrative, Arslan Masih was a student at Ideal Science Academy. He was at the
academy when seven policemen from Bahu Chowk police station stormed the academy at around 5 p.m. on October 9th. They arrived in an official police vehicle
and stormed the premises to the surprise of students and teachers alike. Mushtaq Masih said:
“Arslan was attending classes at the Ideal Science Academy when Head Constable Imtiaz, driver Rashid, Constable Arshad and other unidentified policemen
kicked open the door and dragged him out of the classroom,” he said adding, “Sardar, alias Billu, a police constable, helped them to identify the boy.
The band of police officers started beating Arslan with fists, kicks and rifle butts and Arslan was in visible pain and was screaming for the men to stop.”
Mushtaq Masih has told BPCA that the teacher Farhan Ali, who was present in the classroom, attempted to stop the policemen but was himself attacked and
slapped by the police who seemed intent on continuing to beat Arslan.
“PC Rashid struck Arslan’s head with a pistol which created a bleed,” the mourning father said adding, “When they bundled him into the police van, Arslan
collapsed and died. Later the police team threw Arslan’s body on the roadside and fled.”
Arslan was later found by the roadside by his family who first led a protest by the dead body on the street where it lay as hundreds of Christians gathered.
At the behest of the police they later took his corpse to Babar Medical Clinic where he was pronounced dead on arrival. A full account of his attack can be found by clicking (here)
Mehwish Bhatti, Lead officer for the British Pakistani Christian Association, in Pakistan said:
"Police have cooperated well with the family and the academy teacher Arslan Farhan Taj has registered an FIR of terrorism against the culprits.
"We have supported the family with a payment of £100 to cover the funeral cost for Arslan Masih and with advice, moral support and counselling. We remain
in touch with the family and will continue to provide assistance were required."
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:
"Arslan is the fifth Christian to have died in police custody in Pakistan since the inception of the BPCA. What is most alarming about this account is that he did not commit a crime and was on his college premises at the time, where hundreds of eye witnesses observed his murder.
"The displayed audacity of police officers in this attack reminds us how corrupt and unfit for its purpose the police force of Pakistan is, whilst underlining the brutal tactics of a force uninhibited by senior officers, governing bodies and a pseudo complaints commission.
"Even if justice is served and the guilty police officers are convicted for Arslan's murder, it will not bring back this teenagers life. His family will never see the gleaming eyes of a son who was determined to make something of his life and was progressing towards a bright future.
"Worse still, with no progressive changes to policing structures and monitoring, and with protocols and policies that are largely ignored, all that Christians and other minorities can expect in the future is further heartache.
"This paints a very bleak future for minorities in Pakistan who face the most discrimination and persecution from statutory services. If anything confidence in the Police from minorities in Pakistan has reached its lowest ebb."
You can read about the previous four Christians killed in police custody (here)
Only last month another Christian teenager Sharoon Masih was killed after Muslim students punched and kicked him to death. You can read an account on his attack (here)