New details about the brutal killing of a Christian teenager who was beaten to death by his classmates in Pakistan, and the name of the alleged killer, have been reported by World Watch Monitor (WWM).
Sharoon Masih, 17, was battered by fellow pupils in a classroom in the Vehari District in Punjab, Pakistan, just days into his first term as the lone Christian student at a new school, as Christian Today reported last week.
There have been mixed reports about whether the boy was killed after drinking from the same glass as a Muslim pupil, bumping into his foot or smashing his mobile phone screen. But WWM named Raza Ahmed as the fellow pupil who is alleged to have killed Sharoon and shed fresh light on some of the details surrounding the killing.
Police Deputy Superintendent Javed Tahir Majeed told WWM that Sharoon's mother told his team that Raza had stopped Masih from drinking water on the first day. 'We are investigating this,' he said. 'Here, even Shia and Sunni do not drink from the same glass, so it's possible that Ahmed had this in mind. If it's proved, the team will report it.'
Majeed, one of three senior police investigating Sharoon's murder, told WWM: 'Sharoon's classmate, Sabir Ali, from his village, Chak 461, told us that Sharoon was sitting at the back of the classroom. When he got up to walk through the benches, Raza sprawled his legs out to block his way, telling him he could not go out. When Sharoon tried to get past Raza's legs, Raza started to beat him up. Sabir tried to intervene but Raza beat him up as well.
'Raza denied to us that he physically touched Sharoon but the entire class testified that he kept beating Sharoon even when he fell on the ground, and kept kicking him till he was unconscious. Raza is tall and well built. He has a reputation for fighting even outside the school.'
Sharoon's parents had saved up to send their son to MC Model Boys Government High School Burewala, the charity said.
From the day he started, on August 25, Sharoon was subjected to abuse from Muslim boys for being a Christian.
His mother, Razia Bibi, warned Sharoon not to mix with the other boys after one told him: 'You're a Christian [so] don't dare sit with us if you want to live,' according to British Pakistani Christians.
Bibi told the charity: 'My son was a kind-hearted, hard-working and affable boy. He has always been loved by teachers and pupils alike and shared great sorrow that he was being targeted by students at his new school because of his faith. Sharoon and I cried every night as he described the daily torture he was subjected to.
'He only shared details about the violence he was facing. He did not want to upset his father because he had such a caring heart for others.
'The evil boys that hated my child are now refusing to reveal who else was involved in his murder. Nevertheless one day God will have his judgement.'
Bibi has accused the police of not conducting a proper investigation into her son's death.
Wilson Chowdhry, the chair of the British Pakistani Christian Association, which is raising money to hire a solicitor to 'circumnavigate police inertia' told the 'i' newspaper that the killing 'serves only to remind us that hatred towards religious minorities is bred into the majority population at a young age, through cultural norms and a biased national curriculum'.
In April, a Pakistani university student was beaten to death and his corpse dragged around campus by a mob of his fellow students, after an unconfirmed allegation that he had committed blasphemy.
The 2017 World Watch List of the 50 countries in which it is most difficult to be a Christian by the Christian charity Open Doors places Pakistan at number four.