Pakistani Christian man allegedly tortured and murdered by police in Islamabad

Published 14 February 2014  |  

A 24-year-old Pakistani Christian, Sabir Masih, a father of two, has allegedly been tortured and murdered while in police custody in Islamabad, Pakistan's capital city.

Masih, a resident of a slum area in Sector F-6/2, Islamabad and an employee of Capital Development Authority (CDA), was arrested by police on February 5, 2014, on suspicion of theft. He was brought to the Kohsar Police Station where he was kept for the night and interrogated.

On hearing the news of his initial arrest, his family rushed to the police station and talked to the police claiming that he certainly could not have committed any crime and was a loyal worker.

However, reports claim that police used "the conventional method of torture" to make Masih confess to the crime and one report added, "Lamentably he was tortured to the extent that he died."

My investigation into the situation has revealed that the police tried to cover up the incident by saying that Sabir Masih has committed suicide by hanging himself, but were too late as the matter had already reached the concerned authorities.

Recently Kohsar police station was updated and the capital police claimed that it was a "Model police Station" where the staff were "polite and cooperative". In doing so they wanted to present a positive image of the police so that people would have the sense of security, but regrettably this incident has slammed the claims.

The dead man's family immediately demanded a postmortem be conducted and appropriate action being taken against the investigating officer and others involved in what they considered to be "this heinous crime".

A judicial commission has been formed to investigate the matter, and the postmortem report has confirmed that Sabir Masih was tortured and died of internal injuries, not by the wound on his neck, which the police have tried to claim showed that he hanged himself.

The family is being pressured to schedule an early funeral, but they have stressed that the officers involved should be arrested and they also should be given assurances that "severe action" will be taken "against the wolves in the uniform".

A group of concerned citizens have now protested in front of the Islamabad Press Club against the police brutality, saying that the police should be there to protect the innocent.

One of them said, "If this kind of thing can happen, who will protect the weak? Here is the case of a person who was arrested under suspicion and then is subjected to third degree torture to force him confess a crime he did not do.

"The police in the Punjab Province [where Islamabad is located) has been in the media for using such 'conventional' methods of interrogation, the capital police authorities have been making claims of reforming the 'conventional' ways and using different techniques, but the actions speak otherwise.

"On this occasion, the police has violated the law by arresting a man without warrants, he was denied a lawyer and subjected to terrible torture."

Two human rights groups - Masihi Foundation Pakistan and Life For All Pakistan - have strongly condemned the incident and stressed that had Sabir Masih been a Muslim, or from any other religion, they still would have protested against this "brutality".

A spokesperson for the groups added, "It has been commonly observed that when a Christian is arrested, he or she, has to face the bitter experience, and also that the police takes out all its frustration on the person.

"We demand justice and an exemplary punishment that such incidents are not witnessed in future. The people should feel secure with the police being around, not the other way."

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