Pakistani Christian Survives Jump From 4th Floor to Escape Interrogation Beating in 'Blasphemy' Case

He Was Asked to Perform Oral Sex on His Cousin
(Photo: REUTERS/Mohsin Raza)Men say their prayers during Eid al-Fitr at the Badshahi mosque in Lahore, Pakistan.

A Pakistani Christian man is in critical condition after allegedly jumping out of a fourth-floor window while he was being interrogated at the Federal Investigation Agency in Punjab Province. He says he was trying to escape after being told to perform oral sex on his cousin, an accused in a blasphemy case.

Sajid Masih, 24, a sweeper at a school, was called by the agency for interrogation related to a blasphemy case in which his 17-year-old cousin, Patras Masih, is the accused.

Lying in his hospital bed, Sajid told his lawyer Saturday that he was first beaten up inside a bathroom at the agency's cybercrime wing in Lahore, the capital of Punjab, according to a report by British Pakistani Christian Association.

"They [FIA officers] demanded my attendance at their headquarters to check my mobile phone [FIA officers believed Sajid had blasphemous content on his phone]," Sajid said in his statement. "They used this pretext to take me to a bathroom where they started to beat me."

The agents confiscated his mobile phone as part of their investigation, checked it and then started beating him again, he said. "I asked why they were beating me, what have I done that was wrong. They started roundly beating me again and told me they were hitting me because I was the 'cousin of that boy.'"

Sajid continued, "They told us to insult each other by using the word 'Laanti' (men under a curse), my frightened young cousin complied under great duress. They asked me to remove my cousin's trousers and have oral sex with him. I refused outright. I explained that I can't have oral sex with him because he is my brother, but my pleas made them angry. They then started shouting loudly at both of us. I saw a window in the room and quickly jumped out of it."

No evidence of any crime was found on his phone, Sajid said.

Although Sajid was in the custody of the cybercrime unit, none of its officials visited him at the hospital.

BPCA Chairman Wilson Chowdhry said the news has shattered even the "little confidence I had in Pakistan's security forces."

The complainants in the case are members of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah and other religious parties. They claimed that Patras had posted a blasphemous photo to a Facebook group.

Patras' lawyer, Aneeqa Maria, told Pakistan Today that a group of about 15 people led by the prime complainant, Hafiz Awais, attacked her client outside the district courts where the police had taken him for seeking remand earlier on Friday.

"The complainant and his accomplices slapped and punched Patras when the police brought him out from the courtroom. Later the police handed over his custody to the FIA and the IO (investigating officer), Khalid Saeed, asked the complainant party to also reach the FIA HQs for recording their statements.

"We requested the police to provide security to the accused and his family as we feared that the complainant party might attack them again, but our appeal fell on deaf ears. Even at the FIA office, I requested Khalid Saeed to ensure the security of Patras's family, but he said it was not his responsibility. Hardly a few minutes after we left the FIA building, we were informed that Sajid had 'fallen off' the fourth floor…"

On Monday, hundreds gathered outside Patras' home in Lahore's Shahdara area, calling for him to be executed and even beheaded. One man held up a sign that reads: "Wicked Christian Patras should be punished for committing blasphemy!"

Pakistan's notorious blasphemy laws are embedded in Sections 295 and 298 of the country's Penal Code. The laws carry the death penalty with no provision to punish a false accuser or a false witness of blasphemy. Allegations of blasphemy often stem from the Muslim accuser's desire to take revenge and to settle petty, personal disputes, according to Christian groups working in the country.