Witnesses decline to come forward, fearing retribution
By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
KARACHI, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- Shouting that he was killing "an infidel who blasphemed against Muhammad," a Muslim in Karachi on Saturday (Sept. 14) slit a Christian's throat as police and others looked on, according to the slain man's son.
On the streets of central Karachi.
George Masih told Morning Star News (http://morningstarnews.org), that his father, 58-year-old Boota Masih, worked as a gold scavenger in Karachi's Liaquatabad Gold Market for 30 years, and that the Muslim who killed him also gathered gold dust from jewellers' rugs or work carpets at the market.
Police informed the family that a Muslim, later identified as Muhammad Asif, had killed Boota Masih by slitting his throat with a dagger and then stabbing him multiple times.
"We were told that Asif kept shouting that my father was an infidel and had spoken derogatory words against Muhammad [Islam's prophet] as he mercilessly stabbed him," Masih said. "A large number of people, including four policemen and private security guards of the market, witnessed the entire scene, but no one tried to stop the killer, who walked away waving the dagger in his hand."
A police spokesman told the Pakistani correspondent for Morning Star News that the four policemen stationed at the market said they were not present at the scene of the murder.
Masih said the family had registered case No. 226/13 with the Liaquatabad Police Station, but that police were making little effort to arrest the murderer. Liaquatabad, a bastion of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement party accused of involvement in Karachi crime rings, is notorious for abductions, extortion and murders/assassinations. Boota and his family live in another area.
"We asked everyone in the market if my father had said or done anything to deserve such a brutal death, but not one person complained against him," he said. "They all said that he was a humble man and had never committed blasphemy as alleged by the killer. But if my father was innocent, why did the people just stand there and watch him being killed in this manner?"
He added that when police came to the murder scene, no one came forward to record a statement.
"Even if my father had said something to offend the killer, is this how he should have been punished?" he said. "The entire market testifies to his humility, but not one of them has come on the record to bear witness to the crime."
Masih said that the police attitude had not changed, as officers had yet to make an arrest.
"After my father's killing in the presence of so many people, it is quite clear that any Muslim can get away with murder just by claiming that they had killed a blasphemer," he said.
According to Morning Star News, Liaquatabad Jewellers Association General Secretary Muhammad Faraz indicated Boota Masih was likely killed out of jealousy.
"I was not present at the crime scene, but all of us are sure that Masih was not a blasphemer," Faraz said. "Asif was jealous of Masih because most jewelers only allowed the Christian to scavenge gold particles from their shops. He was a humble man and liked by everyone, which probably provoked Asif to kill him. We condemn the killing of an innocent man in the name of our Holy Prophet."
Sub-Inspector Hamid Ali Gondal, who is investigating the case, told Morning Star News that investigations showed that Asif had used the blasphemy accusation against the Christian as a pretext to kill Masih.
"Asif is absconding since the murder - we have made several raids and also taken some of his relatives into custody to pressure him into surrendering," he said. "Only when we arrest Asif will the real reason behind Masih's murder be revealed."
Gondal denied that police were lax in pursuing the case.
"This is absolutely untrue," he said. "We are trying our best, but you know the law-and-order situation in Karachi. The entire police force is always on its toes because of the bloodshed and violence in the city, but be assured that we will arrest the killer."
Asked why there weren't any witnesses in the case even though the murder was committed in the presence of a large number of people including policemen, Gondal said it was not unusual as people fear retribution.
"You cannot force anyone to testify against someone," he said. "I asked the police guards deployed at the market, and they denied even being at the crime scene at the time of the incident. The Sindh government recently passed the Witness Protection Act, but you very well know that no matter how many laws are passed, no one can guarantee security to life and property in our country, especially in Karachi."
Boota Masih fathered five daughters and two sons.
"Only when they arrest Asif will we come to know why he killed my father," George Masih said. "My younger brother and I have stopped going to work, fearing someone will kill us just like they killed my father."