A Christian family in Pakistan who took a usurious loan from Muslim money lenders where forced to watch as their six year old daughter was shot before them.
Around 8 months ago a Christian father named Waris Masih (36 yrs) who resides in the city of Faisalabad borrowed 40,000 rupees from a Muslim money
lender named, Ajmal Urf mithu Cheema. Mr Masih needed the loan to pay for repairs to his home and the costs associated with their latest child
Naira (9 mnths).
When Mr Masih signed the loan agreement which would require him to pay 8000 rupees per month (£56) until he satisfied the loan, the regular payments
would not affect the original loan he would have to pay extra above the 8000 rupees per month to reduce the loan. The exorbitant contract was
beyond his means as he was only employed as a embroidery machine operator in a textiles factory earning around 15000 rupees (£173) per month making
it extremely difficult to afford his daily living expenses. Sadly for him this meant that he could not pay the requisite monthly interest payment
for November that Mr Cheema collected every 20th day of the month. The missed payment was only the first time that Mr Masih had missed a
payment and it was only late due to costs associated with Christmas. Mr Masih knew things would be even more difficult with Christmas around the corner.
During two telephone calls one on the 25th and 26th Mr Masih asked Mr Cheema to give him till after Christmas to raise the additional funds to pay
for November and December in one payment, however this only lead to a heated abusive exchange and threats of violence. Mr Masih had explained
to Mr Cheema that in January her would be paid 70,000 rupees as a payment as part of his membership of a 'committee' - village savings and loan
scheme where members pay a regular amount into a central pot of money and take turns in receiving a loan amount - however Mr Cheema did not want to
wait till January for his payments.
To collar Mr Masih for the outstanding payment Mr Cheema arrived at Mr Masih's home at 11:45pm on Monday November 27th and demanded full payment of
the outstanding payments owed to them. Of course Mr Masih could not pay him anywhere near the figure he was seeking so Mr Masih requested more time
while he tried to borrow money from friends and family. However, the offered arrangement was not acceptable to Mr Cheema and he started abusing
Mr Masih in front of his wife and children. Mr Cheema then pulled out a pistol and started to fire at Mr Masih's who ran into his home to escape.
While Mr Masih fled the attacker shots fired at him struck his daughter Myra (6 yrs) who was in the veranda area. She was shot twice, once in
the head and also in the left shin before falling to floor unconscious. Realising he had shot the child, Mr Cheema fled the scene of the crime.
Shocked and stunned, Mr Masih picked up his daughter and ran to his motorcycle. A neighbour grabbed his daughter from him and held her as the
two of them travelled by Motorocycle to Civil Hospital where doctors refused to treat the child and did not provide an ambulance. The father
then left Civil Hospital at 12:30 am and rode his motorcycle to Allied hospital where doctors tried to save her life but to no avail. Myra succumbed
to the serious injuries she had sustained in the incident and was pronounced dead at 4.30am on 28th November, doctors have said the shot to Myra's
head had made it impossible to operate safely and she ded during surgery to remove the bullet lodged in her brain.
Local police immediately undertook a post-mortem of Myra's corpse and confirmed that she had been killed by the bullet would. After completing the
post-mortem the body was returned to the family to allow them to grieve and mourn the loss of their young child.
Under the direction of Station House Officer (SHO) Ghulam Farid of Saddar Police Station, immediately filed a criminal case against Mr Cheema
and started a nationwide search for the culprit. Two of his brothers were arrested and questioned and finally on the 2nd of December the fugitive was
captured and is now in prison.
Copy of Police FIR
Our BPCA Officer have met with the family and have gifted them the cost of the funeral for their daughter. We are also intending to pay for a solicitor to challenge for justice for the family who have been mortified by the death of a child so young. If you would like to donate towards our appeal for the family please (click here). We need to raise £1200 for the lawyer and a further £173 per month for 6 months to sustain Mr Masih and his family as they come to terms with the trauma of losing a young child. Mr Masih has not been able to go to work a she has found himself deeply disturbed and depressed by the murder of his daughter. The family have received some threats from associates of Mr Cheema demanding they drop all charges and accept a payment for the loss of their child which under islamic sharia law can be used to settle crimes of murder. Pakistan has adopetd Qisas and Diyat Laws which often permits murders to escape justice by paying such bribes (click here)
Myra's mother Reena Masih (26 yrs) who is exhibiting signs of extreme trauma, said:
"I wish I had died not my daughter I was with Myra who asked me to take her to the toilet when the shooting suddenly began. The bullets missed me by inches and shot her in front of me. She held my hand as she fell to the floor, I believe I just screamed again and again, I could not believe what was happening.
"My lovely, bright intelligent daughter was taken away from me by a cruel and brutal man, she was the eldest sibling for my younger children and such a good example to them. She was so excited by the birth of Naya my youngest daughter and loved to dress her up. She said Naira was her living doll but now she will not see her sister grow up.
"Her sister Saira (3 yrs) keeps asking me where Myra is. I have told her that Myra is playing with the angels in heaven - this gave her some solace she has been traumatised by the murder of her sister.
"I cannot express the pain I feel. I feel deeply depressed and find it hard to carry on. I feel as if I have failed my daughter. It is my responsibility to my remaining children and my husband that keeps me going and the knowledge that God is now caring for my daughter in heaven where one day I will see her again and ask her to forgive me.
"I will cry and mourn my daughter every day till the day I am reunited- she will never be forgotten."
Father Waris Masih, said:
"I would never have reneged on my debt; I just needed time to clear it. I am still in shock at this death - there was no need for the violence; I was going to pay of my debt in full in January.
"I blame myself for this death if I had just waited till January for the committee and had not taken the loan my daughter would be with me. I just wanted to get our house in good repair and buy the things necesary for Naya our latest daughter.
"I have cried and beat myself up over this death but still feel the pain. I just want Myra back but I know it will be a long time before we can be reunited. The pain of her death is like a bullet in my own heart. It would have been better for my family if [Mr Cheema] had killed me."
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:
"Living in Pakistan as a Christian is in most cases a gruesome ordeal, you live life on the margins, are severely discriminated against and persecution is only around the corner.
"Incidents like this gory tale of a young child being murdered to compensate for a missed payment on a loan shark agreement, are sadly common-place. Worse still such crimes rarely result in a prosecution as perpetrators without any compunction, are able to buy themselves out of justice using the Qisas and Diyat laws to avert proper punishment.
"Being able to use threats or a bribe to escape incarceration has created criminal impunity that has exacerbated the situation and caused the proliferation of powerful crime syndicates.For all intents and purposes it has meant many crimelords are above the law.
"Statutory authorities have little appetite for justice and voraciously accept and consume the hefty bribes that come their way. Families often frightened of being targeted by the crimelords accept the Qisas and diyat bribes themselves, hoping to survive a potential onslaught which inevitabley will be ignored by police.
"By providing a safe house and prosecutor to such victims we hope to slowly change the current judicial malaise that has made the lives of Christians in Pakistan a living hell, by ensuring proper justice occurs."