Our legal team in Pakistan from the Organization for Legal Aid (OLA), an office of our affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), recently investigated a matter in which a Christian man was brutally beaten to death for reportedly bathing at a tube well (sand point well) that belonged to a Muslim man.
On February 25, 2020, twenty-five-year-old Saleem Masih, a Christian, laborer, and resident of Kasur (about fifty kilometers south of Lahore) was found severely injured and tied with chains to a tube well in a field that belongs to Hajji Muhammad.
As a member of a family of six brothers and one sister, most of whom are daily wage laborers, Saleem Masih used to load and unload trucks of hay. What is known so far is that he went to take a bath at the tube well after work, a common practice in villages. A few hours later, however, another resident of the village saw Saleem tied and in an unconscious state. This individual immediately informed his family that he saw Saleem tied to the well in the fields.
Saleem’s brothers rushed to the fields and found injured Saleem tied to the water well with chains. They immediately called the police, who came and released Saleem from the chains and sent him to a local hospital. According to the family, the hospital staff did not treat him well and sent him home. But his condition deteriorated and the family took him to another hospital, where the family was told that his arm was also broken (which the previous hospital had neglected to examine).
At the same time, the police were not taking any action to find or arrest the culprits even though Saleem had told his family that Sher Dogar, Iqbal, Altaf, Jabbar, Razzaq, and Hajji Muhammad had beaten him. He told his family that he was beaten with steel rods and hot irons. There were serious injuries all over his body, including his genitals. Seeing the hospitals’ and police's response, the family took Saleem to the village's main road to protest against the doctors’ mistreatment and the police’s inaction.
Hearing about the protest, the Deputy Superintendent of the Police (DSP) came and assured Saleem’s family that justice would be served. The family went home. Finally, the police registered a criminal complaint against Sher Dogar, Iqbal, Altaf, Jabbar, Razzaq, Hajji Muhammad and two unnamed persons.
On February 28, 2020, Saleem’s condition became even worse and the family took him to another hospital. The doctors performed surgery and told Saleem’s family that his kidneys had failed, intestines were damaged, and lungs were not functioning properly. Later that day, Saleem passed away.
Saleem’s autopsy report states that he “died due to septicemia which was consequence of polytrauma (physical assault). All the injuries were antemortem in nature [occurring before death].”
The latest we know is that the police arrested five men, two of whom have been granted bail. We will continue to monitor the situation and be ready to assist if our team on the ground is asked to represent the family.
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