Pakistan's 70th Independence Day anniversary marred by death of Christian prisoner
Lahore: August 16, 2017. (PCP) Pakistani Christians took to the streets to mourn the loss of a Christian man killed whilst in police custody in a Lahore prison on 13th August 2017 - one day before the nations Independence Day celebrations. Christian activists are declaring independence has created a nation with double standards in politics, law and everyday life - one in which Christians are at best second-class Citizens.
Indaryas Ghulam RIP (38 yrs) a victim of circumstance was sentenced to death by hanging for alleged involvement in the death of two Muslim men who were lynched in the aftermath of the Lahore Twin Church Bomb attack in March 2015. On 13th August, the wife of Indaryas was called by local police and informed that her husband had passed away. When the wife saw his dead body, she was shocked at the number of bruises and cuts on his body - a clear indication of the brutality faced by Indarayas from police and prison staff. Indaryas was also suffering from Tuberculosis a disease he contracted only 3 months prior to his arrest in March 2015, Indarayas was never provided proper health care and carried his poor health with dignity never letting his children know how much pain he was in. To date no reason has been given for his death simply a statement that he died of poor health.
In March, a Pakistani Daily Newspaper reported on an offer made to Indarays and all of the other 42 men killed by the Deputy District Public Prosecutor Syed Anees Shah. The offer allowed complete acquittal and freedom to any of the 42 Christian men convicted of murder if they chose to adopt Islam as their chosen faith. No Christian accepted the offer and bravely they accepted their faith. Read more (click here)
42 Christians were charged with lynching the two men after twin suicide blasts targeting a Sunday Mass in two churches in the Christian neighbourhood of Youhanabad in Lahore on March 15, 2015. The attack resulted in 14 deaths and 75 casualties.
Christian community leaders have said that during the frenzy that ensued local policemen delivered two men who were suspected to have been involved in the bomb attack to grieving and hysterical Christians. For some it was a push to far and the two Muslim men were lynched and then their bodies burned. Christian leaders still believe the two men were involved in the bomb attack.
Over 500 Christians were arrested for the crime and tortured in prison cells. The majority were acquitted after having spent a year and six months behind bars however 82 were charged with murder and eventually 42 were convicted. 30 of the men who were charged men are said to be innocent with no evidence existing of any crime of which Indaryas was one. Indaryas and his family who lived in Bahawalpur were only in Lahore to visit family and share the celebration of Easter with them. It could never have entered his mind or that of his family that he would end up accused of murder.
Although BPCA does not condone the killing of the two Muslim men we are surprised at the number of men convicted and the harsh death sentence, despite mitigating circumstances of heightened frenzy.
Even more alarming is the manner in which no Muslims were convicted for their involvement in murder and rioting during the razing of the Christian village of Gojra (click here), or for rampaging through a Christian village in 2013.
Indaryas was a painter in Bahawalpur and leaves behind a widow Shabana (36 yrs) and three children, daughter Shumir (12 yrs), Son Youaab (1o yrs) and daughter Angel (6 years).
Shabana has asked for BPCA to help with the school fees for her children and rent. She has also asked for help to fight a legal battle to exonerate her husband who was innocent and to free the many Christians unfairly convicted for the murder of the two Muslims.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said: "Indarayas Ghulam is a Christian martyr whose sacrifice should remind us all of the need to challenge for justice. Despite his innocence and the huge despair he felt he chose death over the offer of freedom for conversion to Islam. I doubt even he knew the extent of brutality he would face for declining the ostensibly 'magnanimous' gesture of Mr Syed Anees Shah that would lead to an expedited death more brutal in many way then being hanged.
"His stance and the brave stance of other men many of whom were completely innocent, to stand up to the tyranny of high placed Islamists in Pakistan bring attention to the reality of life as a minority individual in Pakistan.
"Despite their brave acceptance of their fate by these 42 men, many nations in the west ignore the plight of Christians and other minorities in Pakistan. Perhaps when they are finally lynched more will realise the injustice Christians face in Pakistan.
He added: "It is hard for Christians to celebrate independence for Pakistan when they know that since creation of the nation they have seen the initial promises of Jinnah for a better life derailed by the politicians that came after him.
"I was invited to attend a flag hoisting celebration at 10am at the Pakistan Embassy in London and once again had to refuse participation. Not because I do not love the nation of Pakistan but because the death of an innocent Christian under extremely dubious circumstances continues to highlight the second-class status of minorities in the alleged 'land of the pure'.
"There is nothing I long more than Pakistan as a nation to become more pure of heart, so much so that they can accept the huge diversity in their lands and stop their trajectory towards anarchy and destruction."