04/04/2013, 00.00
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Lahore: kidnapped and tortured by Muslims, the Easter passion of a 38 year-old Christian

by Shafique Khokhar
Siddique Masih was seized by his former employer, Shahid Khan, a criminal and murderer with "influential protection" in the area. He managed to escape and denounce the band. The violent beatings he was subjected to caused fractures and serious damage to his kidneys. He confesses to AsiaNews: "I will fight for justice until my last breath."

Lahore (AsiaNews) - "I am a  poor man and earn barely enough to support my family, I had no enmity with Shahid Khan but he kidnapped me to take out his grudge". This is a dramatic story and desperate plea for justice and protection, launched by a Christian father, Siddique Masih through AsiaNews. The man was kidnapped on Easter night, suffered beatings and violence that have left him seriously injured and even today, after a few days, is the victim of threats while the gang of criminals has gone into hiding. "I could have died - he adds - if I had not managed to escape". "They beat me brutally and promised to kill my family. Luckily some Muslim friends - he said - helped me to denounce each one of them and I will fight for justice until my last breath".

The drama of Siddique Masih began at 2 in the morning of  March 31, Easter Sunday. The man, 38 years old and father of four children, born in Tajpura, a suburb of Lahore (Punjab) was kidnapped by a gang of thugs led by Muslim Shahid Khan (pictured), along with his brother-in-law Muhammad Rauf and Munir Ahmat, a well-known local bandit. In the last year the victim had worked as a driver for the wealthy Muslim, then he left the job after discovering that his master is - in fact - a criminal and assassin, with interests in gambling.

In revenge for the Christian driver's resignation, regarded as a betrayal, the criminals kidnapped the poor Masih while he was returning home after visiting his parents in Faisalabad, segregating him in an office owned by Shahid Khan in Garden Town, Lahore. He was kept there for two nights in the hands of his captors and subjected to all kinds of torture that inflicted deep wounds on his body.  The lives of his family were also threatened. On the night of April 2, he managed a daring escape, lowering himself from a third floor window.

Rescued by the police and rescue forces, Masih was admitted to the hospital where he was diagnosed with several fractures and serious damage to his kidneys, which may be compromised as a result of the severe beatings. With the help of some Muslim friends, he reported his captors to Garden Town police, but so far there is no news of his captors, who have gone into hiding.

Many residents of the area told AsiaNews that Shahid Khan and his gang are mercenaries, with hundreds of reports against them, but have always managed to escape the attention of the police thanks to connections with influential people in the provincial authorities. Fr. Aftab James Paul, Diocesan Director for Interreligious Dialogue, said that "kidnappings are despicable crimes" and he strongly condemns "both the kidnapping and threats [of heavy retaliation] against the family." For the Pakistani priest " Shahid Khan is history sheeted, he must be punished for his illegal crime."


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