On June 24th Aqueel Masih a resident of Lahore LDA quarters was taken to hospital after his arms had been lopped off his body, he was unconscious on arrival at the hospital.
On July 12th alongside a local Christian elder Sam Bhatti a member of the Minorities Advisory Council of Punjab, Aqueel Masih registered a complaint at Ghalib Market Police Station, that three men had hacked of his arms with axes.
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The report describes how Mr Masih who had been working at a petrol pump for over 4 years where he refuelled vehicles and conducted vehicle servicing and minor repairs, was approached by two Muslim men, who refueled there cars and asked him to go with them to their town for minor repairs on another vehicle. Then the men hacked off his arms during an ensuing argument. The Police First Information Report (FIR) does not include any reference to Mr Masih’s arms being lopped off for not converting to Islam. An exclusion that has caused serious debate across the entire country. However BPCA have spoken with Sam Bhatti and Aqueel Masih, who have both explained that the local Police officer were not willing to include this in the original FIR. Through a fear of not being able to proceed with the crime registration or harsher treatment, they omitted this fact from the final submission.
Over the last two days BPCA officers have been talking to Aqueel Masih to ascertain the truth of this story. Conflicting stories have been put out in Pakistani media, especially media with a strong Islamic bias. These media groups have been suggesting that Mr Masih has fabricated the story and that the argument was over a drugs deal gone wrong. However we have interviewed Masih and his family and although he has dabbled in Cannabis smoking he has no serious drug abuse history and contends that there would be no reason for a drug baron to target him in this way.
Aqueel Masih has revealed to us that his father has converted to Islam and the two men had tried to forcibly convert him to the faith, arguing that due to his fathers conversion he had no right to be a Christian. When he refused his arms were painfully removed with a less then sharp axe, in brutal fashion. There you have a motive but we believe this detail will fail to register with the majority of Muslim’s in Pakistan, who adhere to a hard-line ideology. Mr Maish was lucid when they hacked of the first arm but slipped into unconsciousness rapidly and was unaware that the second arm had been moved till he awoke much later in hospital.
Mr Masih has also spoken of a brutal beating before his arms were severed off. His head was beaten and required 18 stitches and his whole body was bruised.
Kanwal Amar, our local Officer, said:
“There are so mnay cases of violence at the hands of extremists used against Christians who do not convert to Islam, However Aqueel’s case is one of the worst and certainly very gruesome. Aqueel is frightened about his future and feels really helpless he wants justice and protection form statutory authorities, thus far the local police have been far from supportive.”
In a bizzare twist local Police also seemed to obviate from the truth, an illustration of their self-protectionism. They immediately sent out a counter press release stating that they had concluded that Aqueel’s arms had been cut off during a train accident, believing him to be a heavy drug user and addict. This despite any report from the train authorities or any professional medical report. Mr Masih has confirmed that the only medical analysis of his condition happened a few days ago, after the Police made their statement. Their stance has surprised many and the corruption exhibited highlights the difficulties Christian face when pursuing justice in a system that is stacked against them.
Three men have been arrested and are in custody while they are being investigated. However it is believed that justice will be hard to obtain, because Mr Masih is Christian and the majority of Muslim’s in Pakistan are oblivious to the extremism that has consumed the country. There is a pervading belief that Christians make up these stories of persecution and that all Christians are drug and alcohol addicts.
BPCA have been asked to support Aqueel Masih with medical, legal and sustenance costs. The loss of two major limbs has destroyed his quality of life and hopes for a future. Pakistan does not have either a social or welfare model for disability. The nation simply has nothing to help severely disabled people adapt to life after sever disablement. If you would like to help us to make his life somewhat more palatable please (click here)
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The original FIR