09/11/2017, 16.03
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Injured Faisalabad Christian sanitation worker still waiting for justice

by Shafique Khokhar

Kashif Masih has received very little compensation from his employer. Most street cleaners in the province are Christians. They have no insurance or medical coverage, and suffer from discrimination.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – A Pakistani Christian sanitation worker is still waiting for justice and support for his medical treatment after he was injured in a work accident a month ago.

Kashif Masih, 24, originally from Barkatpura in Faisalabad (Punjab) district, has been employed for the past two years by the Faisalabad Waste Management Company (FWMC).

On 11 August, which happened to be Minorities Day in Pakistan, an FWMC chief ordered Kashif and his colleagues to fix a banner on an electricity poll.

This kind of task is not part of Kashif’s job description. However, as a simple labourer, he obeyed. Once he climbed the poll, he was electrocuted and fell 4 metres.

Because of the impact, Kashif was paralysed with burns over 50 per cent of his body as well as a broken foot and knee, plus injuries to the skull.

He was taken to hospital, where he was kept in the surgery ward for two days. Due to a strike by medical staff, his burns were not treated.

Only after the intervention of Robin Daniel, a humanitarian worker, and Khalil Tahir Sindhu, Provincial Minister for Minorities and Human Rights, was Kashif moved to the Burn Unit.

During this period, the FWMC showed no interest in the conditions of the Christian worker. Meanwhile, his family has been forced to foot the bill for the hospital stay.

On 15 August, Robin Daniel went to the District Coordinator's Office where he filed a complaint against the FWMC, accusing them of forcing Kashif to perform a dangerous task that was not part of his duties.

Daniel demanded that the company pay all the medical expenses and, since the worker is unable to work at the moment, pay him 2 million rupees (US$ 20,000) in compensation.

The company responded on 4 September by paying only 50,000 rupees ($ 500) to Kashif, a tiny amount considering its conditions. Four days later, the unfortunate worker was brought home.

The lower part of his body was seriously injured and it will take months before he can walk again. This is a problem for his family who relied on his salary to survive.

Robin Daniel points out that "90 per cent of Barkatpura sweepers are from the local Christian community. They do not have insurance or health coverage and are discriminated by the FWMC. Female workers are also badly treated.”

"The local Christian community has raised 23,000 rupees (US$ 220) for Kashif's treatment, a meagre number. But we will continue to fight for his rights and ask for fair compensation [to pay] for his treatment."

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