Pakistan: Terror Unleashed: The Horrors of Forced Acid Ingestion as Christian man fights for his life


London: (By Hannah Chowdhry and Juliet Chowdhry) In a village nestled within Sheikhupura, a Christian dairyman found himself in a harrowing ordeal when his Muslim employer compelled him to ingest acid. Rendered unconscious by the corrosive substance, the dairyman was promptly taken by his employer’s associates to a nearby medical facility.

Recognizing the severity of the situation, the medical personnel swiftly referred the stricken worker to Mayo Hospital in Lahore. Presently, he remains in critical condition, battling the dire consequences of the acid ingestion.

On the afternoon of May 8th, at approximately 1:00 pm, Shahid Masih, aged 34, endured a horrifying ordeal at the hands of his employer, Muhammad Ijaz, and his accomplices in the village of Ghang, Sheikhupura. Allegedly accused of theft, Shahid Masih was subjected to brutal torture and forced to ingest acid by his employer.

Following the vicious assault, Shahid Masih was swiftly transported to the Trauma Centre in Sheikhupura by the perpetrators themselves, utilizing a private ambulance, when he lost consciousness due to the severity of the torture. Despite receiving initial medical attention at the Trauma Centre, his condition did not improve, prompting the doctors to refer him to Mayo Hospital in Lahore.

Presently, Shahid Masih fights for his life in a ward at Mayo Hospital, while his family clings to hope through prayer. However, the prognosis is grim, with medical professionals cautioning the family to prepare for the worst. Shahid Masih’s lungs and stomach bear partial functionality, their normal operation impaired by the corrosive effects of the liquid he was forced to ingest. Compounding the situation, damage to his esophagus and respiratory tubes has rendered an endoscopy unfeasible at this time.

On May 9th, the BACA team had the opportunity to meet with Sonia Bibi, 35 years old, at Mayo Hospital Lahore, where she bravely recounted the tragic events that befell her family. She revealed that their connection to Muhammad Ijaz came through her brother-in-law, Indriyas Masih, aged 40, who was employed at the dairy farm owned by Muhammad Nazar, the elder sibling of Muhammad Ijaz.

In February 2024, Shahid Masih, his wife Sonia Bibi, and their six children moved to Muhammad Ijaz’s dairy farm, seeking a fresh start. Previously, they were working for another employer, under whom they had incurred a debt of Rs. 200,000 (£588). Muhammad Ijaz agreed to settle this debt, transferring it to himself, and in return, offered Shahid Masih a position at his dairy farm and additionally a free home. This relocation marked the beginning of a new chapter for Shahid Masih and his family as they hoped to improve their circumstances through this new employment opportunity, by saving rent and being closer to family members.

Situated outside the village of Ghung, Muhammad Ijaz’s dairy farm stands in stark contrast to his residence in the city, where he resides with his own family. Despite the physical separation, Muhammad Ijaz frequents the dairy farm at various times throughout the day, overseeing its operations.

The harmony at Muhammad Ijaz’s dairy farm was abruptly disrupted following the celebration of Eid Ul Fitr in April 2024, when a distressing incident occurred. A total of 12 goats were reported stolen from the premises, prompting Muhammad Ijaz to file an FIR against unknown perpetrators at the Saddar Police Station in Sheikhupura.

In the wake of the theft, suspicions cast a shadow over Shahid Masih, with Muhammad Ijaz allegedly pointing fingers at him and insinuating his involvement in the crime, despite Shahid Masih vehemently denying any wrongdoing. “We are innocent. How could we betray someone who provided us with shelter?” exclaimed Sonia Bibi, fervently defending her family’s integrity.

Residing in workers’ quarters adjacent to the dairy farm, Shahid Masih and his family diligently carried out their responsibilities before retiring to their humble abode each night. Recounting the fateful morning of April 8th, Sonia Bibi revealed, “Shahid woke up around 3:00 am to begin the daily routine of milking the buffaloes, only to discover the unsettling absence of the goats upon opening the dairy farm gate.”

Following the unsettling discovery of the goat theft, Shahid Masih promptly notified Muhammad Ijaz, who arrived the next morning and summoned the police to investigate the matter. Despite the police’s subsequent inquiry, during which Shahid and Sonia provided their statements and were subsequently cleared of suspicion, Muhammad Ijaz continued to harbor doubts regarding their innocence.

“He has been pressuring us relentlessly to admit to a crime we did not commit,” Sonia Bibi revealed, highlighting the persistent coercion they faced from Muhammad Ijaz.

In a distressing turn of events, the police proceeded to arrest Indriyas Masih and subjected him to interrogation at the police station. Under duress, Indriyas Masih purportedly confessed to the theft and implicated Shahid Masih as his accomplice. However, Sonia Bibi vehemently contests the validity of Indriyas Masih’s confession, firmly believing it to be coerced under the brutal tactics employed by the police.

The events of May 8th turned into a nightmare for Shahid Masih and his family as Muhammad Ijaz, accompanied by his brother Muhammad Nazar and other unidentified individuals, descended upon the dairy farm. In a shocking display of brutality, they subjected Shahid Masih to merciless torture in the presence of his children, Minahil, aged 13, and Joshua Masih, aged 12, who were assisting their father in his work.

“My children were also subjected to violence simply for weeping at the sight of their father’s agonizing ordeal,” Sonia Bibi recounted, her voice trembling with anguish.

As the torment unfolded, Sonia Bibi rushed to the scene upon hearing her children’s cries, only to witness a horrifying sight: Muhammad Ijaz and his cohorts were forcing acid into Shahid’s mouth. Horrified and desperate for answers, Sonia confronted them, demanding to know the reason behind the savage assault and the nature of the liquid they were forcing Shahid to ingest. In response, Muhammad Ijaz callously dismissed her concerns, claiming it was merely liquor.

“I too was subjected to physical assault and verbal abuse,” Sonia revealed, her voice laced with indignation.

With her family held hostage by Muhammad Ijaz and his associates, Sonia pleaded for the safe return of her eldest daughter and son, who were denied the opportunity to accompany her to the hospital to see their father fighting for his life.

“I implore you to help reunite my family and pray for my husband’s recovery, as he is the sole provider for our large family,” Sonia beseeched, her heart heavy with worry and fear for the uncertain future that lay ahead.

Sonia has asked the British Asian Christian Association for financial assistance to cover the cost of medicines and the income lost while she tries to sustain her household, as her husband is currently in the hospital. The family needs £150 a month to cover these expenses. Additionally, they have requested help to settle their £588 debt to Muhammad Ijaz, enabling them to move to a place of safety while they seek justice. You can help bring freedom to this family and support their fight for justice by donating (here).

Juliet Chowdhry, a trustee for British Asian Christian Association, passionately articulated the gravity of Shahid’s ordeal within the context of the systemic challenges faced by Christians in Pakistan. She stated, “Shahid’s ordeal is a stark reminder of the cruelty that Christians endure in Pakistan where they hold pariah status. No individual should ever endure such barbarity, particularly at the hands of employers they have served diligently. Our hearts ache for Shahid and his family, and our thoughts are fervently with them during this trying time.”

Chowdhry emphasized the importance of hope and solidarity, stating, “We hold onto hope, fervently praying for Shahid’s full recovery. His strength and resilience in the face of such brutality are a testament to his courage, and we stand in solidarity with him as he battles for his life. May he find solace in the love and support surrounding him, and may his journey towards healing be swift and steady.”

Regarding justice for Shahid and his family, Chowdhry stressed the necessity of accountability: “The perpetrators of this heinous act must be brought to justice. We demand swift and decisive action from the authorities to ensure that those responsible for Shahid’s suffering are held accountable for their actions. Justice must be served, not only for Shahid and his family but also as a deterrent against such senseless acts of violence in the future.”

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