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Christian man shot by neighbor on his wedding anniversary was on his way to buy a cake

Lahore: August 20, 2018. (PCP) The killing of a Lahore-based 35-year-old Christian father who was shot in the doorway of local Muslim man's home has sparked huge controversy after police failed to register a crime until his dead body was paraded through the streets in a protest outside Lahore press club. Even then only one national newspaper covered the story in one paragraph (click here). Pakistani Christians allege protests in which murdered bodies are dragged through the street with hundreds mourning are the only way to get police authorities to file crime reports affecting minority communities. Earlier reports named three culprits, but only one has been charged with a crime. To read our previous report click (here)

Vicky Masih a 35-year-old who worked as a cleaner and court messenger for the last 10 years at the Punjab Bar Council in Lahore was shot on the day of his 9th wedding anniversary. On 15th August 2018, at approximately 11:45 pm Vicky left his home to buy a celebration cake for his wife Hina (28 yrs) so that with his children could they all celebrate the special date as a family. Sadly, despite having left on a very innocuous trip Vicky would never return home and that moment of great joy withered away to a life of mourning for a now young widow and her three children.

Barely 10 minutes had passed from the time of departure of Vicky from his home when a local group of men knocked at the home of the family and informed Hina that her husband had been shot and was lying in agony in the doorway of a local Muslim man named Mohammed Abbas (30 yrs). The whole of family left their home and rushed to the scene of the crime hoping that Vicky was still alive. When they arrived at Mr Abbas's house they found Vicky lying in a pool of blood with the top half of his body in the street traversing the doorway and his legs inside the living room of the house. It looked like he had been running to try to escape the homeowner. Even from first inspections it was obvious to them that the young father's life was slipping away from him.

The family slumped to the floor by the body of Vicky and tried to encourage him to hold on but Vicky was very frail by now and not very lucid, he could only utter sounds and not words. Muhammed Abbas was in the same home and when he saw the family he fled on foot to escape from the crime scene - no-one attempted to stop him as they feared he had a gun and they were more concerned about saving the life of Vicky.

A large number of local residents many of who had heard the shots joined the family to give support and some called the police who failed to respond.

They found that Abbas was still in his living room with injured Vicky and as he saw the family and people around he started running. No-one gave chase however, as everyone was more concerned about Vicky and were not sure if he still had a gun.

Abbas and Vicky's homes are across the street, a short distance from each other and Vicky's brothers Robin (24 yrs) and Salman (23 yrs) ran from their home which is also nearby and came back on their motorcycle. The two brothers held Vicky on the bike and they set off on a 25 minutes journey to Mayo Hospital in Lahore in order to get the injured man some immediate medical assistance.

While Vicky's was being transported to hospital on motorbike, other family members went to the local police station to demand an investigation. On arrival at the police station the Christian family were surprised at the reluctance of officers present to investigate the crime. Eventually after the family refused to leave without a police officer, six officers were tasked to take the family in a van and visit the crime scene where they wrote an initial report and took images on a police camera. The officers also took a few statements from witnesses which provided compelling evidence of a crime but rather dubiously following the police visit a crime was still be registered via a First Information Report (FIR).

In the meanwhile, the brothers of Vicky reached Mayo hospital and seeing the state of Vicky medical emergency staff rushed all three straight into an emergency room. Quite tragically however, after only a few minutes of checking the state of health of Vicky the medical team pronounced him dead. The concerned doctors asked the brothers whether they had informed the police and offered to do so but the brothers explained that other family members had taken care of that.

Around 40 minutes after the brothers had arrived at the hospital the police also attended with the other members of slain Vicky's family. However, at this point they were still refusing to register the FIR. They undertook a general fact-finding mission and then left for the police station after ensuring the corpse of Vicky was stored in the hospital mortuary overnight.

Early in the morning the family returned to Shafiqabad Police station but they once again found that police were not cooperating in registering an FIR. In response the upset family of Vicky collected his body from Mayo hospital, placed it in a coffin and took it too Ravi Road in Lahore near their home, where they protested from 4:00 pm in the afternoon till 7:30pm. No government, political leader was involved only the family members, church people, neighbours and relatives came out to support the family in their protest. Despite their every effort no Pakistani media barring the Nation who wrote a one paragraph incorrect article covered their struggle for justice. It is believed this is because of the anti-Christian agenda in the country.

After the protest BPCA discovered the story and published it, resulting in the police feeling pressured enough to register an FIR that evening, and then sending the body for a postmortem examination. The funeral took place on 17th August at 7pm. Mohammed Abbas was caught by the police on the same evening that the FIR was registered but the family has not been advised of the circumstances of his arrest.

BPCA officer Zeeshan Masih travelled to the funeral of Vicky with flowers to condole the grieving family and Hina, shared her concerns, she said: “Vicky and Abbas knew each other from the neighbourhood.

"This murder is a mystery to my family and the whole community. No-one understands why Vicky went to Abbas's house as the two of them only spoke from time to time in passing as neighbours.

"Vicky was shot on the hip by only one bullet and Abbas must have watched as Vicky screamed and writhed before him. Vicky died slowly and painfully he never even had a chance to say anything to us as he was already semi-comatose from the blood loss by the time we arrived to him.

"We have lost our family leader and now our future will be difficult. He gave up everything for us and we loved him so much I feel broken.

"I am praying for justice the man who killed Vicky should not be able to destroy any more lives."

The family believe that Abbas is known for paying bribes to the local police in order for them to ignore his illegal drug trafficking. This is one plausible reason for police failure to initially establish this crime case as a murder. Police have not yet established the reason for Abbas killing Vicky as he has not given a statement. The crime scene has now been cordoned off by the lackluster police but much of the evidence would have been walked over and touched unwitting people helping the family or simply there due to curiosity.

Wilson Chowdhry said: "A Christian man has been murdered and the culprit is known. The very fact that Christian communities have to protest to get justice highlights ongoing grave concerns about the ability and the desire of Pakistani Police authorities to get justice for Christians.

"If the authorities of Pakistan fail to convict Mr Abbas then the already sullied reputation for the nation of Pakistan will reach its lowest ebb.

"If Imran Khan wants to prove he cares for minorities than he should make ensuring justice in this this open and shut case a priority. Men of such violence simply should not be allowed to walk the streets unfettered."

"It is often wrought with difficulty to get justice when there is this kind of power disparity.

"We hope to be able to raise some funds to be able to help the widow and orphaned children recover from the loss of their primary breadwinner. We will continue to assess the ongoing situation as the perpetrator's and victim's families' live very close to each other."