The son of a Pakistani Christian servant who was tortured by police in an attempt to get him to confess to stealing from his Muslim employer has revealed his horrifying eyewitness testimony of the brutal beating that his father endured earlier this month that ultimately led to his father's death.
On Jan. 14, the slain body of 47-year-old Liaqat Masih was handed over by authorities to his family in the town of Gujranwala in the Punjab province. Masih and his son were arrested by local police officers based on the accusation of theft from the home of his Muslim employer, Mohammad Raza Hameed, whom employed Masih as his driver for over 15 years.
Hameed and his father S.A. Hameed are wealthy Muslim businessmen and leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek Insaf political party in the community. When Hameed and his family went out of town, their home got robbed and Hameed notified the police about the robbery and initially lodged a complaint against unknown perpetrators.
According to the Pakistani Christian Post, Hameed later accused his own servant of stealing from him and then pressured police to arrest and force a confession out of Masih and his son, Khurram.
As the Masih family is now being legally represented by the European Center for Law and Justice's Pakistani affiliate, the Organization for Legal Aid (OLA), Khurram provided in-depth detail about how the local police officers barbarically tortured him and his father as they refused to confess to a crime they did not commit.
After police officers questioned Khurram and he refused to confess, Khurram recalled that four police officers forced him to strip naked, then tied him up and then beat him. When Khurram again refused to confess to the crime, he said the officers brought in his father and also ordered his father to take off his clothes.
The officers then made Liaqat stand on a chair so they could tie his hands behind his back and hang him from the ceiling, which caused Liaqat's shoulders to become dislocated.
Khurram explained that each time his father's feet would hit the floor, a police officer would pull the rope to again to lift him up and continue applying tension to his arms and dislocated shoulders.
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As both Khurram and Liaqat were adamantly standing behind their innocence and refused to confess to the crime, Khurram stated that the officers continued to beat his tied-up father with wood logs until he eventually died.
About an hour into the beating, the guards noticed that Liaqat was no longer breathing. The officers then released the tension on the rope and laid the father's beaten body down in a pool of his own urine, Khurram said.
According to Khurram, he was later released by the police while his father's body was taken to a hospital for an autopsy, where doctors claimed that Liaqat died of a heart attack and failed to record the numerous injuries and bruises suffered during the beating.
As the corrupt legal system in Pakistan is often used by Muslims to settle personal grievances against religious minorities, Liaqat's brother pointed out in an interview with Morning Star News earlier this month that none of Hameed's Muslim servants were arrested or accused of the crime.
"Why was only my brother named and handed over to police custody, while the Muslim employees were not interrogated?" Riasat Masih wondered. "My brother had honestly served his employers for 15 years, but they did not even consider this fact before turning him in to police custody and asking them to torture him until he 'confessed' to the theft."
Liaqat leaves behind four children, aged nine to 20. Liaqat was first arrested in mid-November and when the police officers returned his body on Jan. 14, Riasat claims they failed to provide them a copy of his brother's autopsy.
Following the return of the body, the family and other Christian villagers carried the body in the streets as a way of protesting the unlawful killing.
The OLA has filed a petition with the local court system calling for a second autopsy to be conducted under court supervision, and also plan to file a grievance against the doctor who performed the original autopsy. The Christian family has also been threatened against filing legal action against the police officers involved in the fatal beating.
"We were demanding a fair probe into the killing and for registration of a murder case against those responsible for his death," Riasat Masih added. "Rather than listening to our grievance, the police attacked us with batons and sticks and threatened to arrest and torture Christian youths if we did not stop demanding registration of a case against the police officials. Several women were also injured in the police baton attack, so we retreated to our homes with Liaqat's body and have now decided that we won't bury him until a case is registered against Inspector Sajid Suhal, Investigation Officer Amin Butt and the sons of S.A. Hameed, Raza and Ahsan, on whose orders the police were acting."
Pakistan is listed as sixth on the 2016 Open Doors World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution. The ministry notes that in 2015, the level of Christian persecution rose to its highest level ever in Pakistan.