Police in Pakistan have registered a murder case against between 150 and 200 Muslims following the death of Christian shopkeeper Pervez Masih on 14 February in Lahore.
The incident happened in the city’s LDA Quarter, Walton Road, after a group of Muslims was involved in an altercation the previous evening with Pervez at the games shop he ran. The dispute, which was reported to police by Pervez’s family, was apparently settled following the intervention of mainly Christian members of the local community.
The next morning, however, between 150 and 200 Muslims went to the shop armed with guns, clubs and iron bars. One of the mob hit Pervez with a brick, causing a critical head injury. Pervez, who was in his late 20s, died in hospital.
Large numbers of police officers have since been sent to the area to calm tensions among the local community, where Christians are a minority.
Police Superintendent Esa Sukhera said, “We responded timely, engaged the elders of the Christian community and defused the tension.”
A team from the Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), which provides legal aid to Christians with support from Barnabas Fund, is investigating the killing and is helping Pervez’s family following the funeral, held on 15 February.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said on 13 February that his government has “zero tolerance” for anyone taking the law into their own hands. In a Tweet responding to the mob lynching of a man accused of “blasphemy” in Khanewal, Punjab, Khan stated that the perpetrators would be dealt with by “the full severity of the law” and that action would be taken against “police who failed in their duty”.
His words were echoed by the Special Representative to the Prime Minister on Religious Harmony Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi who stated the culture of being “judge, jury and executioner” could no longer continue. He added that no one should think of “running the country as per their own desires”.
From Barnabas Fund contacts and other sources