Lahore – Shahid Masih, a 35-year-old Christian man, succumbed to his injuries on May 18, 2024, at Mayo Hospital, Lahore. Shahid was brutally beaten by his employers after being accused of stealing goats. Despite his denial, Shahid’s employer and others inflicted severe injuries that ultimately led to his death.

Shahid and his family had relocated to Bhiki, Sheikhupura, just six months prior, having accepted employment with a local Muslim landlord. Shahid was responsible for managing the cattle farm, earning a monthly salary of Rs. 16,000, along with accommodation and food. The family’s duties included milking cows and maintaining the cattle yard.

According to Sonia, Shahid’s widow, tensions escalated following the theft of 12 goats. Although a First Information Report (FIR) was filed against unknown persons, the police were unable to apprehend the thieves. This failure led the landlords to unjustly accuse Shahid of the crime. Sonia recounted the horrifying evening of May 8 when seven men, including Rana Nazar, Rana Ejaz, Rana Ramzan, Rana Aftab, and three unidentified individuals, stormed their home and began assaulting Shahid, accusing him of theft.

“They came armed with knives, pistols, and batons,” Sonia told Pak Christian News (PCN). “Despite my husband’s pleas of innocence, they continued to beat him, insisting he confess to the theft.” The attackers dragged Shahid to Rana Ramzan’s courtyard, where they tied him up, broke his teeth and fingers, and forcefully poured acid into his mouth. His agonizing screams alerted the family, who rushed to the scene, only to be dismissed by the assailants.

Shahid’s condition was dire when his family managed to take him to the local DHQ Trauma Centre in Sheikhupura. The doctors, acknowledging the severity of his injuries, advised immediate transfer to Lahore for better medical care. Despite lacking an ambulance, the family transported Shahid to Mayo Hospital, Lahore, where they were informed that his internal injuries were too severe for recovery.

“Doctors said the acid had caused irreparable damage to his internal organs,” Sonia recalled. “They told us there was no hope.” Shahid died on May 18 and his funeral was held on the same day. His father, Rafaqat Masih, 75, a heart patient, expressed his profound grief and struggle to reclaim his son’s body. “Shahid was my obedient and hardworking son, the sole breadwinner for our family,” Rafaqat lamented. “He never lied, and he had no bad habits.”

Rafaqat described Shahid’s final moments and the pain he endured. “He signalled to me that he wanted to pull out his broken teeth because of the unbearable pain.” He also revealed that the postmortem report, expected in a month, would provide more details on the extent of Shahid’s injuries.

Despite an FIR being filed, the influential perpetrators remain at large. Rafaqat recounted how they attempted to bribe him with Rs. 2.5 million to drop the case. “Even if they offered 10 million, I would not abandon the pursuit of justice for my son. I want the murderers punished.”

Shahid Masih leaves behind six children: Minahil (15), Joshua (12), Sahrish (11), a 10-year-old daughter, an eight-year-old son, and a four-year-old boy. The family is now appealing to Mariam Nawaz, the Chief Minister of Punjab, for justice.

The tragic death of Shahid Masih underscores the urgent need for protection and justice for marginalized communities in Pakistan.