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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Saleem Masih, 22, tortured to death for polluting tube-well water in Chunian

A 22 year old Christian man was tortured to death by the landlords in Chunian. The local police has been accused to have supported the accused persons for being influential in the area. Killing of a man for polluting tube-well waters raises serious questions over the state of governance in Pakistan if the powerful landlords concerned with such brash acts are not brought before the law.

According to a report published in Pakistan Today, a Christian labourer, who was brutally tortured tp death by local landowners in Kasur three days ago on accusations that he had ‘polluted’ their tube-well water by bathing in it, succumbed to his injuries on Friday. The local police is accused of protecting the murderers despite committing such inhumane crime.

According to details, Saleem Masih, 22, was brought to the General Hospital in a critical condition on Thursday from Chunian tehsil, his family said. “On Feb 25, Saleem had finished unloading chaff in fields in Baguyana village and was taking a bath in the tube-well when a group of men, including Sher Dogar, Iqbal, Altaf, Jabbar and Haji Muhammad rushed over, yanked him out of the water and began beating him,” Saleem’s father Ghafoor Masih said.

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“They cursed and abused Saleem for ‘polluting’ the water, calling him a ‘filthy Christian,’” Masih claimed, adding that the assailants then dragged the youth to their cattle farm, where they chained his hands and feet and continued to torture him with sticks and rods. “They also rolled a thick iron rod over Saleem’s entire body, causing multiple fractures and internal injuries.”

Ghafoor said that the family was informed about the incident by police officials four hours after his son was taken hostage and tortured. “When we reached the cattle farm, we found Saleem lying unconscious on the ground, his face and body bloodied,” he said.

He alleged that according to Dogar and the other men, Saleem had “committed a crime by dirtying” their well water and that his punishment was “justified”.

Masih said that after much pleading, the family was allowed to take Saleem to the hospital while the police acted like spectators.

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Accusing the Ila Abad Police of favouring the accused against the Christian community, Pakistan Center for Law and Justice (PCLJ) Executive Director Napolean Qayyum said that police had helped the five men obtain bail after briefly holding them in custody.

It is important to note that after relentless use of violence against Muslim in India, Prime Minster Imran Khan has warned Pakistanis not to target any member of the religious minorities.

It is yet to be seen whether the prime minister or the chief minister will take the notice or not. Political analysts maintain that the government must ensure that religious minorities are protected at any cost.

Senate body on human rights discusses custodial death prevention bill

Moreover, the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights in its meeting held on Friday at Parliament House discussed in detail the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention and Punishment Bill, 2020, introduced in the House by Senator Sherry Rehman.

The Committee also reviewed in detail the Government Bill, The ICT Rights of Persons with Disability Bill, 2020, introduced and referred to the Committee.  The Maintenance and Welfare of Old Parents and Senior Citizen’s Bill, 2019, introduced by Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed was passed by the Committee unanimously.

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Chaired by Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokar, the meeting was attended by Senator Sherry Rehman, Senator Muhammad Tahir Bizinjo, Senator Muhammad Usman Khan Kakar, Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed and senior officers from the Ministry of Human Rights, along with all concerned.

Discussing the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention and Punishment Bill, 2020, introduced by Senator Sherry Rehman; the Committee recommended some amendments and assured that after their incorporation; the Bill will be passed in the next meeting mainly focused on Christian and other minorities.

While considering the ICT Rights of Persons with Disability Bill, 2020; the Committee in addition to the suggested amendments by the members of the Committee invited a group of people belonging to different minority sects for their view and input on the Bill and to suggest amendments.

It was recommended that the jurisdiction of this Bill must be extended to the whole of Pakistan and all Federal Government institutions working in provinces.

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It was also suggested implementation mechanism of the Bill must be strengthened. Representation from the community of differently-able person must be ensured in the council to be constituted under the Bill.

Specific terminology for different disabilities must be used.  Further it was suggested that all websites in Pakistan must ensure Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards are applied.  Airlines should facilitate people with disabilities while travelling.

The Committee decided to address all of their concerns of differently-able people’s ad take the Bill in the next meeting for further discussion.  The Committee also decided to summon all relevant stakeholders, Governor State Bank, PIA and other related organizations in the next meeting for their input on the Bill.