08/16/2017, 15.34
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Christian prisoner who refused to reject his faith dies in custody in Lahore

Indaryas Ghulam died under mysterious circumstances in police custody. He had burns and cuts on his body. He was one the 42 people arrested for lynching two Muslims after the Youhanabad church attacks. The prisoner could have saved his life had he denied Christ.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Pakistan's Christians have taken to streets to protest the death of Indaryas Ghulam, a 38-year-old Christian who died in mysterious circumstances whilst in police custody in Lahore Jail.

The death occurred on Sunday, on the eve of the country’s 70th independence anniversary.

Ghulam was one of 42 Christians arrested on charges of lynching two Muslims suspected of taking part in the Taliban attack against two churches in Youhanabad (Lahore district) on 15 March 2015 that left 19 people dead and more than 70 wounded.

He was also one the prisoners whom Prosecutor Syed Anees Shah had tried to bribe, promising release in exchange of reneging Christ. He could have saved his life, but decided to bear witness to his faith onto death.

Ghulam, who had been sentenced to death by hanging for his alleged involvement in the beating of the two Muslims, had always maintained his innocence.

News about his death came from the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA).

The prison administration attributed his death to poor health; he had tuberculosis. But his wife Shabana and daughter Shumir, who saw the body, said that he had burns and cuts everywhere, clear signs of torture and of the brutality to which he had been subjected.

What is more, they add that although he was severely ill, he never received adequate medical care behind the bars.

"Indaryas Ghulam is a Christian martyr, whose sacrifice must remind all of us of the need to strive for justice,” said BPCA president Wilson Chowdhry. “Although he was innocent and endured atrocious sufferings, he chose death in lieu of the freedom offered in exchange for conversion to Islam."

"His brave example and that of so many other innocent push us to oppose the tyranny of Islamists in Pakistan and focus on how the [Christian] minority lives in the country."

According to activists who took to the streets, "it is difficult to celebrate independence, since it has created a nation with double standards in politics, law and everyday life, a nation in which Christians are second class".

They also complain that Ghulam is not the first Christian to die under torture in police custody. Four others died before him. The first was Robert Danish, killed in September 2009; followed by Qamar David, assassinated in March 2011; Zubair Rashid, in March 2015; and Liaquat Masih, who died in January 2016.

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