Storm brewing in Mandi Bahauddin…

PMWho is Imran Masih

Imran Masih, son of Sharif Masih, resident of Chak 44, Tehsil Phalyian, Mandi Bahauddin, Punjab, employee of a local health care center and works as a janitor.

April 16, 2015

Imran Masih, attends wedding of a Muslim colleague’s daughter and records a small video clip just like any of us do at such occasions.

April 19, 2016

Imran goes back to work where his colleagues ask him to show them the video clip of the wedding.  Imran hands over the phone without hesitation, thinking he has nothing to hide, and continues to finish his work.

Upon returning, Imran finds Bilal, a drug store owner, showing provocative lectures by Pastor Sami Samson to other workers.  Upon asking Bilal to return the phone, Bilal hits Imran on the face accusing him of watching anti-Islamic lectures on his phone.

Imran swears that he has never watched any such video but he is not believed and is locked up in an empty room.  Imran calls members of his Catholic Church Committee to apprise them of the situation using another phone which he fortunately had.  Aamir Masih and Arif Masih tell a senior doctor at the health center that Bilal is not educated enough to be able to browse and use search engines.  After persuasion, they are able to get Imran Masih released.

April 22, 2016RT

Coworker, Maulvi Manzoor tells Imran Masih that Bilal is very upset with him and that Imran should seek Bilal’s forgiveness.  Imran accompanies Mansoor to Bilal’s shop to ask for forgiveness.

Bilal, being absent from his shop, is called on the phone by Manzoor, only to learn that he is in Sargodha seeking opinion of religious scholars on the incident.  Bilal informs Manzoor that a decree (fatwa) has been issued finding Imran Masih guilty of blasphemy and is entitled to be killed.

Imran Masih is advised by Manzoor to run and hide to save his life.  Imran does not go back home, instead, goes in hiding.

April 23, 2016

Sharif Masih, Imran’s father, contacts the health center to ask about his son and is told that Imran never showed up to work.

Sharif is not satisfied with the response and asks a few Chuch Committee members to accompany him to the health center.  Upon visiting, they learn from Maulvi Manzoor about the conversation with Bilal because of which Imran Masih has run away.

April 29, 2016

Till this day, the incident is spread across villages while Imran is still in hiding.  Local Muslim clerics urge all to socially boycott Christians and to not do any business with them quoting “harboring a blasphemer’ as the reason.

Irshad Jhakar, a Muslim businessman, announces Rs. 1 million reward to anyone who kills Imran Masih.

One committee of Muslims, led by Inayat Mahajir announce to organize an attack and torch homes of the Christian community and Church.

Another committee of Muslims, led by Mohammad Riaz, request Inayt Mahajir to not take any action until accusations are proven.

CMMay 2, 2016

Muslim committee members visit the health center where Imran Mash worked and inquired on the incident.  The committee was told that no such incident of blasphemy took place.  Committee is not satisfied with the response and continues to plan the attack.

May 5, 2016

Iqbal Masih, a Christian resident of Chak 44, approaches the mosque, seeking permission to have his daughter’s marriage ceremony on May 6, 2016.  Iqbal Masih is denied permission and instead, told if Imran Masih is not handed over, they will be attacked at midnight. Young men are deployed to keep an eye on Sharif Masih’s house.

May 6, 2016

After Friday prayers, Muslim clerics call upon all Muslims of adjoining villages to gather in ARChak 44.

Aamir Masih calls 15 (police helpline), sensing trouble as a large crowd gathers outside the mosque.  Police arrives fairly quickly and disperses the crowd.  Muslim committee members are taken to Imran Ghuman’s house to record statement while not a single Christian is asked for a statement.

Dr. Ashraf Fazi (convert from Islam to Christianity), standing nearby, is beaten up by a few of those who had gathered outside the mosque.  Police drags Dr. Fazi inside Imran Ghuman’s house and later take him along.

May 7, 2016

Dr. Ashraf Fazi is released after staying overnight with the police.

May 12, 2016

Ali Zain of Daily Pakistan Global reports that the local police has concluded that the blasphemy charges level against Imran Masih were fabricated.  Muhammad Nawaz, Assistant Sub-Inspector, says there is no evidence to confirm the crime.

DLSalim Iqbal (National Director of Care Council for Human Rights) accuses minority MNAs and MPAs including Kamran Michael, Shehzad Munshi, Tariq Masih and SHakil Marth and others of doing nothing while enjoying perks of representing minorities.  Iqbal is fearful any action by them will be only after tragedy strikes.

Iqbal’s fear may be justified as Muhammad Saleem Bhatti, who heads the mosque committee and who is an elected vice chairman of the union council on PML-N’s ticket, has announced to do whatever possible to bring the blasphemer to justice.

The Christians, many of whom have reportedly already left to take refuge with friends or relatives, are living in fear, having difficult access to food, security, peace… And how can they feel at peace or secure when there are only about 300 Christians out of total of approximately 3,000.

Should any one decide to record concern and raise the voice, contacts are given below.  Others can continue to watch the smoke from a distance till the fire is too close to be put out.

This is not the first time, but it can be the last!

DPO, Mandi Bahauddin: 0546-502324Fax: 0546-503068, E-mail: mbdinpolice@yahoo.com

SDPO Phalia (Circle): 0546-596126 Local Police Station Phalia 0546-596007

Mohammed Zafar, SHO, Thana Gojra: 0321 7777154

Sources:

  1. Centre For Legal Aid Assistance & Settlement
  2. Ali Zain, Daily Pakistan Global
  3. Shamila Ghyas, The Nation

Could they have stayed? A little longer…

One after another, Pakistan is losing her best.  The sane voices, which shout inclusion, pluralism, love, respect, mutual coexistence, which try to turn a pencil sketch into a brightly colored painting, are silenced.

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Parween Rahman

A fighter for the poor silenced…” said a staff reporter of Dawn.  Parween Rahman, gunned down on February 13, 2013. What was her crime? She was a kind soul who felt far too much for the less fortunate.  She wanted the poor to have something they can call home.  She wanted them to feel self-sufficient as she worked hard day and night to empower all who felt deprived.  She made the mistake of loving, of documenting about lands which have been grabbed and coffers being filled by billions.  And as a result, billions lost a kind-hearted person many referred to as a mother.

Rights advocate gunned down in Multan…” said the print.  It was Rashid Rehman this

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Rashid Rehman

time and the date was May 7, 2014.  Regional coordinator for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and a well-known lawyer, Rehman believed.  That was his crime.  He believed in the justice system.  He believed that every defendant has a right to a lawyer.  He was known by many as a helper, an enabler, particularly for the downtrodden.  He made the mistake of representing Junaid Hafeez, accused of blasphemy.  With full cognizance of the risks, he went ahead.  And as a result, he too was murdered in cold blood.

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Sabeen Mahmud

Director T2F shot dead in Karachi…”. The date was April 24, 2015 and it was Sabeen Mahmud’s turn.  The lively, chirpy Mahmud, a human rights activist, loved by many all across.  What was she thinking challenging the injustice and discrimination? Everything about her was all inclusive.  She lived for the people and their smiles.  Perhaps that was her crime, to think more for others than herself.  She wanted to give a voice, wanted to make sure all were heard, brought everyone to the table and there was almost nothing which could not be resolved over a cup of tea.  She held a session for the voices of Balochistan.  Was it ‘Unsilencing Balochistan’ that silenced her, or was it her various stands against the injustice and defending the rights of one and all.  Whatever the reason, hope for many was lost.

Rights activists killed in Karachi gun attack…”.  May 7, 2016 was the last day for Khurram

KZ

Khurram Zaki

Zaki, a journalist, a human rights activists, one who had to raise his voice for all minorities and against self-proclaimed gods.  He took on the big ones, Maulana Aziz of Laal Masjid and Aurangzeb Farooqi of ASWJ for the hate-speech against Shias.  He was equally vocal for Hindus, Christians, Ahmadis, rather all minorities which are being persecuted.  His crime was that he took others to heart.  He felt and wanted to alleviate the pain.

Various groups claimed the fate of all these wonderful human beings.  Ruthlessly killing all, rendering Pakistan to a poorer state.  Ever wonder how easy it is for them to kill? These lives were precious for they spoke for many, stood up for the not so privileged, screamed for harmony, peace, coexistence and love.  Silencing these voices equate to silencing of hope for millions.

While the claims are there, the responsibility, perhaps, lies elsewhere.  It lies in the silence.  The killer silence which thinned these beautiful voices.  Why was it that these heroes, celebrated at the scale they are upon and after their death, are not celebrated at the same level while alive?  Why were their voices so thin and not that of millions when they were out taking on the monstrosity that plagues our nation?  Did their lonely voices, only joined by a handful, not make them an easy target? If every call made by them were joined by hoards, would it have not made the killers realize they are outnumbered?  Or are they?  All of them made top trends on social media upon their death.  Facebook, twitter, whatsapp groups and all other forms of communication are full of support.  Where was all this support when these voices silently whispered in all our ears to join them?  They were let to be alone, left to be silenced.  One only wonders if millions or even thousands were out with them taking a stand, would the monsters find it so easy?

It is our hypocrisy, our silence that killed them.  We are all responsible for letting them fight the fight on their own sending a loud and clear message that they are dispensable.

Join your hero while alive, become an invincible wall, make it happen.  The rogues may think twice before trotting those guns and spraying bullets.  And we might, just might have such voices live a little longer, stay a little longer…