02/14/2021 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – According to Morning Star News, two men suspected of torturing a Christian man to death have been permanently freed on bail in Pakistan. Relatives of the victim claim police are working on behalf of the killers to cripple their effort to get justice.
On February 25, 2020, Saleem Masih, a 22-year-old Christian, was working as a day laborer in an agricultural field owned by Sher Dogar in Bhagiyana village. Early in the morning, after Saleem finished unloading chaff in the fields, he rinsed himself off in a nearby tube-well. When Dogar and other Muslims saw what Saleem was doing, they rushed over, pulled Saleem out of the water, and began to beat him.
“They abused and tortured [Saleem] for ‘polluting’ the Muslims’ water,” Waris Masih, Saleem’s uncle, told ICC. “They got aggressive because a ‘Choora’ (a derogatory term used denote Pakistani Christians as unclean) dared to make their water unclean. They claimed this would make their entire crop filthy.”
According to multiple reports, Dogar and six other Muslims, including Muhammad Iqbal, Altaf, Ali Shehzad, Jabbar Arain, Mushtaq, and Haji Muhammad, dragged Saleem to Dogar’s cattle farm where they chained him down and tortured him for two hours. Saleem’s relatives report he was beaten with sticks and iron rods, given electric shocks, and rolled over by an iron rod, causing multiple fractures to his left arm and ribs.
Three days later, on February 28, Saleem died at the Lahore General Hospital due to the severity of his injuries.
Since then, Saleem’s family has pursued justice in Pakistan’s biased courts. According to Ghafoor Masih, Saleem’s father, he has been threatened and asked to take blood money in exchange for dropping the case against his son’s killers.
“My son was tortured in front of many villagers, but even the witnesses have backtracked due to threats from the accused and the police, who are acting on their behest,” Masih told Morning Star News. “Sometimes we are offered blood money, and other times threatening messages are conveyed that my sons and I will be killed in a similar manner unless we stop pursuing the matter in court.”
According to Morning Star News, the two men accused of killing Saleem were released on permanent bail in October after a police investigator told the court that Saleem died in an accident.
“Despite our hue and cry that our young son was brutally tortured by the accused, the judge admitted the police’s false statement and ordered the release of the accused,” Masih explained to Morning Star News.
Pakistan is ranked among the world’s worst persecutors of Christians by Open Doors USA. According to the 2021 World Watch List, Pakistan is ranked the 5th most difficult country in the world to be a Christian.