The Muslim man arrested and jailed for killing a Christian fellow student has been released on bail, reports Asia News.
Judges at the Multan High Court in Lahore, who released Ahmed Raza, said “no clear evidence was collected to attest to [his] guilt”.
Sharoon Masih, 17, was beaten to death in his classroom on his second day at MC Model High School in Vehari, Punjab on 30 August 2017. According to Sabir Ali, Masih’s classmate, “the entire class testified” that Raza beat Masih to the ground, and continued kicking him until he was unconscious.
Sharoon’s mother told police that her son was “hated because of his religion”, but one of the investigating police officers, Umar Saeed Malik, said this was unlikely because it was only Masih’s second day at school.
Masih’s family have denounced the police investigation. An anonymous source told Asia News that officials had “altered the evidence” and so compromised the investigation. The autopsy report presented in court excluded traces of torture and only spoke about death by heart attack, Asia News reported.
The diocese of Multan has offered legal support to help Masih’s family appeal against the release of Raza.
Pakistan’s Christian minority are often treated with contempt, compounded because many come from the so-called “untouchable caste”, with whom some Muslims refuse to drink and eat.
The status of “untouchable” Christians and Hindus and the socioeconomic problems they face is the subject of a PhD thesis, by Sabir Michael. The son of a sanitary worker, Michael suffered discrimination himself and says he wants to use his experience to help similar victims of prejudice. “The situation of human rights is worsening in [Pakistan]. The constitution itself makes us a second-class system. Perhaps there is an undisclosed state policy to keep religious minorities at a certain level and ignore their development,” he told UCA News.