HRCP slams Christian couple’s murder over desecration charge

| November 5, 2014

Lahore, November 5:The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed grave concern over a mob beating to death a Christian couple at a brick kiln where they worked, in Kot Radha Kishan. The couple’s bodies were later burnt in the kiln.

In a statement that the Commission issued after on the preliminary findings of a team sent to the area, HRCP said: “HRCP is shocked and saddened beyond words by the callous murder of the couple and their unborn child. An HRCP team that went to the site of the tragic killing did not come across any evidence of desecration of the Holy Quran.

“It appears that the murdered man, Shehzad, had a dispute over wages, or recovery of advance that the kiln owner had extended to two families of Muslim labourers who had escaped. The kiln owners had asked Shehzad to repay the amount extended to the escaped families because he had introduced them to the owners.

“It appears that Shehzad and Shama, his wife, had been severely beaten up at the kiln and locked up in a room. Some witnesses say that Shehzad had died in the beating. Shortly afterwards, when word of alleged desecration was spread to nearby villages and announcements made through mosque loudspeakers, a mob of hundreds headed towards the kiln.

“Meanwhile, four policemen at a nearby post visited the kiln and demanded that the couple should be handed over to them otherwise they would be killed by the mob that was headed that way. However, the HRCP team learned that the kiln owners instructed their employees not to hand the couple over and the policemen were also beaten up.

“HRCP is still trying to get the police version and the DPO had said that the police were investigating the matter and around 40 persons had been arrested including the kiln owner.

“We do not want to influence the investigation in any manner. However, HRCP must voice its outrage at the tragic killing and state that the chances of the couple getting any benefit of doubt diminished when they were accused of desecrating the Holy Quran. The religious belief of the victims also apparently did not work in their favour. HRCP earnestly hopes that this fact would not be lost on the authorities and would persuade them to reflect on their obligation to protect all citizens. The inability of the police to rescue the couple despite reaching the site is stark evidence of the state’s vanishing writ. The individuals, whether at the kiln or in nearby villages, who instigated violence against the victims, and those who prevented their rescue must be brought to justice. The exploitation of kiln workers is an essential part of the context of the tragic killing and this incident should lead to accelerated efforts to ensure that slavery-like practices that continue despite a promise in the constitution cease without further delay.”

Zohra Yusuf


Category: English Press Release

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