Saleem Masih
Saleem Masih succumbed to his injures after being tortured in Kasur, Pakistan Image Credit: Twitter

Dubai: He was tortured to death for taking a dip in a village tube well in Pakistan, his fault was that he was a Christian.

Saleem Masih, a 22-year-old in the city of Kasur in Pakistan’s Punjab province, was allegedly tortured to death by local landlords after they accused him of ‘polluting’ the water he bathed in.

Two days after the attack, on February 27, Saleem was brought to a hospital in critical condition but succumbed to his injuries, according to a report by Pakistan Today, an English-language daily in the country.

Saleem had reportedly finished unloading chaff in fields and was rinsing himself off in the tube-well when a group of men rushed over and yanked him out of the water and began beating him, his father Ghafoor Masih was quoted as saying, according to the Pakistan Today report.

The victim’s father also said that Saleem claimed that the group of men who attacked him abused and cursed him for being a “filthy Christian”.

Reportedly, the abusers dragged Saleem to their cattle farm, where they chained his hands and feet and continued to torture him with sticks and rods.

“They also rolled a thick iron rod over Saleem’s entire body, causing multiple fractures and internal injuries,” Ghafoor was quoted as saying.

Ghafoor also said that the family was informed about the incident by police officials four hours after his son was taken hostage and tortured.

“When we reached the cattle farm, we found Saleem lying unconscious on the ground, his face and body bloodied,” he said.

Police ‘acted like spectators’

Reportedly, Saleem’s family had to plead to the landowners allegedly responsible for the incident to take the unconscious man while police “acted like spectators”.

Punjab Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Ejaz Alam Augustine commented on the incident and said that stern action would be taken against the perpetrators and the police officials concerned, according to Pakistan Today.

Social media outrage

After the incident came to light, social media users were left furious. Many used the hashtag #JusticeForSaleemMasih to speak out about the incident involving Saleem and abuse against religious minorities in Pakistan.

One such user, @ainee_2010, wrote: “Another incident from #Kasur: A Christian labourer, Saleem Masih was brutally tortured to death by local landowners in Chunian, Kasur on Feb 25 on accusations that he had ‘polluted’ their tube-well water by bathing in it. Spread the word to demand #JusticeForSaleemMasih.”

Tweep @fispahani called the incident inhumane: “It’s a sickness. Killing a poor Christian farmhand for merely taking a bath and thereby ‘polluting’ the water. Not Islam. Not Muslim. Not human. #kasur #punjab #pakistan”

Whereas, user @dixitsanjeev commented on the violence minorities face in the region: “Killed for faith he professed. Bigoted and hate-filled minds galore in South Asia region. Latest case from #Pakistan, comes few days after @ImranKhanPTI appealed to his countrymen to not harm #Minorities. #NayaDaur #Christian #Kasur #Punjab”

Violence against minorities in Pakistan

Just a day after the incident occurred, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, @ImranKhanPTI, tweeted about protecting religious minorities in the country: “I want to warn our people that anyone in Pakistan targeting our non-Muslim citizens or their places of worship will be dealt with strictly. Our minorities are equal citizens of this country.”

Over the years, numerous cases of abuse against religious minorities have surfaced in Pakistan

Another Christian couple burnt alive in Kasur

Kasur is the same district where a young Christian couple was lynched by a mob who first paraded them naked and then set them on fire over false allegations of blasphemy in 2014.

Shahzad and Shama Masih were 26 and 24 years old respectively when the incident occurred, and Shama was pregnant.