Lahore, a Christian dies of torture in police custody
by Shafique Khokhar

Amir Masih was 25 and had become a father for the second time eight days earlier. Deputy police inspector and four agents under investigation for murder. The wife threatens to take her life with her children. Activists: "Everywhere in the world the police are allowed to violate the oath made, which is to protect human rights".

Lahore (AsiaNews) - Amir Masih, a 25-year-old Christian, died while in police custody due to torture of agents for four days. His death occurred on 2 September in Lahore.

He was called to the police station to answer for a theft charge. He left that station dying and indeed died later in the hospital. The family is desperate and the wife threatens to take her life with her two children if justice is not done.

Speaking to AsiaNews Rojar Noor Alam, activist, declares: "The murder of Amir while he was detained in the hands of the police, is not only a serious crime, but a serious violation of the Constitution".

The Christian had become a father for the second time eight days before his death. Amir Masih worked as a gardener in the home of a Muslim landowner, at PF Colony (Lahore). His wife Salma Bibi, a housewife, says that her husband was a "really kind and hardworking person. He earned 22 thousand rupees (128 euros) a month and was putting aside the money to send our children to school. The cruel police snatched his life away for no reason. "

On 28 August, the Christian was summoned by Deputy Inspector Zeshan of the Shamali police station to defend himself against an accusation of theft presented against him. Not seeing him coming home, the family members became alarmed and started searching.

They went to the barracks, but the officers reported that Amir was not with them. On 31 August the family filed a complaint for disappearance. On 2 September the deputy inspector called Munir Bhatti, the victim's brother-in-law, to tell him to go and take back the family member, cleared of all charges.

When they arrived at the station, relatives found Amir in critical condition and transported him to the Services Hospital of Lahore. Here he passed away a few hours later.

Post-mortem investigations revealed that the man died from torture. The relationship highlights bruises on the legs, arms and back; the ribs are fractured due to blows from iron sticks. At the moment a complaint was lodged against the deputy inspector Zeshan and four policemen.

According to Rojar Noor Ala, "the responsible policemen must be pointed in an exemplary manner. The issue of extrajudicial killings and torture in the hands of the police must be raised and discussed in the National Assembly, in order to pass a law to monitor these incidents ". "Unfortunately - he adds - there are segments of society that continue to have prejudices against marginalized communities".

Dil Nawaz Khan, theologian and researcher on Islamic-Christian dialogue at the University of Liverpool, says: "The violence carried out by the police is a crime. After the murder of Amir Masih, they killed Salah ud Din, a mentally disabled person who was accused of stealing from an ATM. All over the world the police are allowed to violate the oath made, which is to protect human rights ".

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