Hundreds of local Christians demonstrated in front of the local municipal office in Pakistan after a Christian man arrested on false theft charges, died in police custody. According to sources, police allegedly tortured 26-year-old Nasir Masih who was transferred to the local hospital where he died on August 19, 2004.
It during the Independence Day of Pakistan on August 14, that Nasir Masih was picked up by police on suspicion of theft charges, reported the Pennsylvania-based Pakistan Christian Post. According to the news agency, Masih was tortured to point where he became unconscious and then handed over to the Saddar police, where he was harshly tortured for two more days in an attempt to force from him a confession for a theft that he had not committed.
Masih was then presented before the court of the local magistrate on April 16, but was refused any medical assistance. Rather, Masih was put in general ward, where he died on August 19.
After news of Masih’s death made its way into the Christian community, VOM sources say that hundreds of local Christians demonstrated in front of the local municipal office and met by police who used batons and fired shots into the air to break up the demonstration. Seventeen people were arrested, including two pastors. The pastors and two others were later released, but ten remain in custody, the sources said. Charges have been laid for rioting and obstructing traffic.
Meanwhile, a case has been registered against ten people for the death of Masih, including six police officers, but, at last report, there have been no arrests.
“Pray for the family of Nasir, as they suffer through their grief,” wrote VOM Communications Director Glenn Penner. “Pray that Christians will demonstrate the love of Christ in the midst of their calls for justice. Pray for protection for Christians who frequently face violence at the hands of police, as well as Islamic militants.”
The Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), a Pakistan-based interdenominational agency, estimates that there are over 1,500 Christians in prison on false charges in Punjab alone.