Pakistan: Torture of Christian by federal investigators exposes brutality of state machinery and vulnerability of non-Muslims in the country

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On February 25, the Geller Report brought you the harrowing story of Sajid Masih, a Pakistani Christian whose cousin Patras Masih has been falsely accused of blasphemy. Officials of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) tortured Sajid and demanded that he perform oral sex on Patras. To avoid doing so, he jumped out the window of the building.

After Christians have been abused in this way in Pakistan for decades, with hardly anyone taking notice, this case has finally called attention to how much Christians suffer in Pakistan, both from Muslims eager to victimize them and seize their property or possessions by means of false blasphemy claims, and by officials who sympathize with the persecutors and bring the victims no justice. Will this case bring an end to that in Pakistan? No, but it may be a beginning.

“The story of Patras and Sajid Masih,” by Asif Aqeel, The News on Sunday, March 4, 2018 (thanks to RB):

Communal tensions are still simmering in a Christian neighbourhood in Lahore that narrowly escaped being burned to ashes on February 18. Located at the end of Dhair, a densely populated town near Shahdara Morh, this Christian neighbourhood is terror-stricken. Christians of the area fear that their houses can be attacked any time in the name of religion.

The young man at the centre of the story, 18-year-old Patras Masih, was remanded to jail on Feb 25, charged under 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which is about the use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

Patras is the main suspect in the Shahdara blasphemy incident, and during interrogation, Patras allegedly named his cousin, Sajid Masih, 24, a janitor in a local college, in the crime. Sajid was promptly summoned to the FIA building holding Patras.

According to Sajid, when he arrived at the building of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Temple Road in Lahore on Feb 23, he was tortured and forced to perform sex with his cousin Patras by some officials of the agency. In order to escape this, Sajid jumped from the FIA building and suffered multiple fractures.

“They had called me to come and get my cell phone checked. I went myself to the office where Patras was also present,” Sajid told The News on Sunday (TNS) at Mayo Hospital, after regaining consciousness.

“They beat me with fists and kicks and then with a computer electrical cable,” Sajid continued. “I asked them why they were beating me. They said my fault was that I was Patras’ cousin. Then they told me to call myself and Patras ‘laanti’ [accursed] which I did. Then they ordered me to take Patras’ [trousers] off and perform oral sex on him, but I refused, saying that he was my brother and I couldn’t. Then they started yelling at me.”

“Finding no other way, I jumped from the window – I do not know what happened after that.”

Sajid was first taken to General Hospital but after a few hours he was shifted to Mayo Hospital. There he was operated upon, and now he is stable. His broken jaw needs an operation which, according to his brother Wajid Masih who has been by his side in the hospital, will be done later. So far, operations have been performed on both his legs.

“Because his blood pressure and breathing is not normal so his broken jaw can not be operated upon, but it will be fixed later when he feels better,” said Wajid.

Khalid Saeed, the FIA inspector investigating the case, lodged a criminal case against Sajid at the Civil Lines Police Station, the day after he jumped from the FIA building. The charge against him? Attempted suicide.

The FIR against Sajid reads that “During the investigation, Sajid was questioned in the presence of Patras Masih regarding the blasphemous pictures of Prophet Muhammad’s (Peace Be Upon Him) grave. The forensic expert took his cell phone and asked for his Facebook username and password. On this, Sajid became terrified and apologised, saying he had deleted the controversial page and the blasphemous pictures. Fearful of recovery of the pictures, Sajid jumped off the window and fell on a car porch.”

The FIA Deputy Director Khawaja Hammad told BBC Urdu that Patras Masih was beaten on the court premises by complainants when he was presented there on Feb 23. He told the BBC that a request had been sent to Facebook to provide information about the group in which the blasphemous picture was posted.

“During the investigation, Patras mentioned Sajid, after which he was asked to join the investigation. When Sajid was being interrogated, he first threw his cell phone from the window and then hung outside the window to threaten us. Then his hand slipped and he fell down,” Hammad said.

However, the account of the FIA Deputy Director and that of the inspector do not match. This in itself, says a lot about the case. Unfortunately, however, Sajid’s family does not have the means, or the backing, to lodge a case against the FIA….

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