Gojra, Muslims kill Christian who was trying to protect sister
by Shafique Khokhar

Arif Masih, 32, was beaten, kidnapped, poisoned and then abandoned on the street. Although there are complaints and witnesses, the police have not arrested the perpetrators. In protest, Arif's parents deposit his body amid rush hour traffic asking for solidarity. Baba Intizar Gill: We urgently need to protect religious minorities and give them full citizenship.

Gojra (AsiaNews) - Arif Masih, 32, was killed by a group of Muslims for trying to defend his sister from the harassment of two young Muslims. Days earlier, the two young men had dragged the girl into the street and stripped her naked. Faced with police and the government inertia, his parents exposed the body of their son in the street, asking for solidarity and justice from passers-by.

Arif Masih is the son of Saleem Masih, and resided in the Chak 370 village of Tariqabad (Gojra, Punjab). According to his brother, Rizwan Masih, events began on 20 May. Their sister, Rehana Bibi, 18, had gone to the bazaar to buy some milk. Returning home, two young men, Muhammad Tariq and Muhammad Majid, began to harass her. The girl tried to escape and took refuge in the house. The two broke into the house and got into a fight with Arif. The two young men also took the girl and dragged her to the bazaar, tore off her clothes and mocked her.

District policeman Toba Tek Singh Rana Umar Farooq ordered them to file a complaint. Arif therefore drew up the complaint (first information report # 506/2021) against Muhammad Tariq and Muhammad Majid, citing article 354-A which punishes "anyone who assaults or uses criminal force against a woman and tears her clothes, and in those conditions exhibits her to the public ". The complaint was filed on the same 20 May, but no one was arrested.

Since then, the accused began to threaten Arif with the worst consequences if he failed to drop the complaint.

According to several witnesses, on May 23, both perpetrators went to Arif's home and attacked him. They loaded him onto their motorcycle and then beat and poisoned him, throwing him on the street. Local people informed the family that their son was lifeless in the middle of the road. In critical condition, Arif was first taken to Tehsil Headquarters Hospital in Gojra; after first aid, he was transferred to Allied Hospital in Faisalabad. But due to his injuries and the poison, he died.

Yesterday May 24, in protest, the family took Arif's body and exhibited it in Samundri Road (Faisalabad), stopping the vehicles and demanding justice from the Chief Minister of Punjab Sardar Usman Bazdar; from the inspector general of Punjab Inam Ghani and from regional police officer Raja Rifat Mukhtar.

Human rights activist Baba Intizar Gill, who is president of the Aqliyat-e-tahafuz party, condemned the incident and is also demanding justice for the family.

“The government - he said - must take prompt action against the guilty and protect the rights of minorities, considering them full citizens. These incidents against religious minorities are not new in our nation, but unfortunately the government never takes firm steps against the culprits. It is sad to see that up to now, none of the perpetrators have been arrested”.