05/16/2020 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – According to Morning Star News, a Christian street sweeper was killed in late April after he was hit by a police van in Gujranwala. As compensation, the government has announced that the family of the deceased Christian will receive the equivalent of $620.00.
On April 24, Ashiq Masih, age 56, was picking up garbage along the roadside in Gujranwala for the Gujranwala Municipal Corporation when he was struck by a police van speeding the wrong way on a one-way street. Masih died of the injuries he received hours later in a hospital in Lahore.
According to Morning Star News, police registered a First Information Report (FIR No. 407/20) against the driver of the police van and have placed him under arrest. However, local rights experts and advocates do not believe the Maish family will receive justice or due compensation.
“Ashiq’s family is entitled to be paid at least 3.3 million rupees ($20,440.00) in blood money under the Islamic laws,” Advocate Lazar Allah Rakha told Morning Star News. “But I don’t think the police will pay them even a penny more from what they have already paid in the heat of the situation.”
According to Morning Star News, police officials gave Masih’s wife 20,000 rupees ($124.00) shortly after the incident took place. According to Advocate Rakha, police will likely pressure the family in to pardoning the driver of the van without further compensation.
Morning Star News reports that this case typifies the discrimination faced by Christian street sweepers in Pakistan.
“The government announced the measly monetary compensation only after the Christians raised this issue on social media,” Mary James Gill told Morning Star News. “Otherwise the incident would have been swept under the rug as always.”
In normal times, Christian sanitation workers, including street sweepers, face discrimination and abuse as a part of their daily life. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, these vulnerable Christians are additionally being forced to choose between their meager wages and exposure to the virus that has locked down nearly half the world.