He was killed during school lessons. He refused to convert to Islam. He had argued with his classmates who were witness to and promoters of the murder. Activists condemn violence and impunity at the expense of religious minorities: anyone who is free to act as an accuser, judge, and executioner. Justice and Peace: This trend is not new, but growing, uncontrolled and unpunished.
Sheikhupura (AsiaNews) - A young Christian student was tortured to death by Punjab police in the village of Jabhran, near the city of Sheikhupura. Arslan Masih, 15, was killed in front of his 9th grade classmates on October 9 during the lessons.
According to the statement of Arslan’s mother, the young student was being pressurized by his Muslim class fellows to convert to Islam. He refused saying he would remain Christian always. Talking to some local media his mother stated that the continuous proposals for conversion from his class fellows lead to quarrel between them, and then the students conspired with the police who eventually took the life of her beloved son. After the brutal torture the police took Arslan to a nearby clinic where the doctor pronounced him dead. Police threw his body in front of academy and fled away, some locals took his body to his house. Now, Arslan’s family along with Christian community is holding protests and demanding justice.
Talking to Asia News, Samson Salamat, Chairman of Rwadari Tehreek said, “This is not first extra-judicial murder by the Punjab Police as there are several incidents every year but the only thing which can help such incidents in future would be that the responsible are being punished according to the law. Justice is not possible in such brutal incidents if the community will not stop the policy of accepting compensation from government rather than demanding justice.”
Mechelle Chaudhry, president at Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation says “When those who are responsible to protect the lives of citizens, begin to turn against them then where does one go for protection. We condemn this incident in the strongest possible manner and demand that justice be done. Unfortunately when it comes to religious minorities anyone is free to act as a prosecutor, judge and executor; we cannot allow this to go on; impunity around violence against religious minorities in Pakistan has to end. We call upon the Chief Minister Punjab to order an impartial inquiry; the perpetrators must be brought to Justice”.
Ata-ur-Rehman Saman Coordinator at NCJP, condemned the act and stated, “Christian students are facing a hostile situation in their educational institutions particularly in Punjab. In rural areas Christian students are not allowed to drink water from the same vessel used by Muslim students. Forcing Christian students to embrace Islam is not a new trend in Punjab”. Saman describes the plight of a 9th class student in Khanewal (South Punjab) who was thrown on the ground by classmates who threatened to strangle him unless he recite the Kalma) (one becomes a Muslim after reciting the Kalima). Later the family moved to Lahore.
“This growing trend is fatefully is going unchecked and continuing with impunity. Denial and cover-up policy have deteriorated the situation” he concludes. “If the National Action Plan had been implemented with its true spirit, things could be different.”
Sheron Masih was 17 years old and had just begun attending public school. Classmates beat him to death with sticks because he tried to drink water. His murder, "just the tip of the iceberg; below, a great mountain of hatred and discrimination against minorities. "
Sharoon Masih was murdered by his classmates on the third day of school. For the National Commission for Justice and Peace, the boy’s murder is the fault of school authorities. His death was not the result of “a fight among teenagers, but in fact it was caused by intolerance, discrimination and inhuman attitude”.
AsiaNews heard the history of Victoria’s family, forced to abandon their hometowns because they are Christian. They moved to Lahore, but here too, Christians endure attitudes of intolerance and hatred against minorities, a far cry from what is said in political proclamations.