LAHORE: An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Wednesday awarded death sentence to five convicts for burning alive a Christian couple in Kasur’s Kot Radha Kishan area in 2014.
ATC Judge Muhammad Azam directed the convicts – Hafiz Ishtiaq [a religious cleric], Mehdi Khan, Riaz Kambo, Irfan Shakoor and Muhammad Hanif – to pay Rs100,000 each as compensation to the legal heirs of the victims.
The court also awarded two-year jail term each to eight other convicts for aiding and abetting the crime. They are: Muhammad Hussain, Noorul Hasan, Muhammad Arsalan, Muhammad Haris, Muhammad Muneer, Muhammad Ramazan, Irfan and Hafiz Shahid.
The challan submitted by the police said Rescue 15 was informed on November 4, 2014 that a woman, Shama, who worked at Yousaf Gujjar’s brick kiln in Chak No 59 had allegedly disrespected the Holy Quran by burning its pages and a charged mob had gathered around her house.
When sub-inspector Muhammad Ali, ASI Abdul Rasheed and other police officials, who were out on patrol on Adda Manga Road, reached the scene they found 500 to 600 people gathered at the kiln. Some of the mobsters were also beating the woman and her husband, Shahzad Masih, with sticks.
The police official said they tried to bar the mob from damaging the brick kiln’s roof which they were removing to throw couple into the fire but the policemen were beaten and pushed back by the mob.
The mob later pushed the couple into the kiln in the presence of police and other witnesses – Iqbal Masih, Shahbaz Masih, Nazir Masih and Imran Masih. According to the challan, the post-mortem report also confirmed that cause of the couple’s death was burning from dry heat.
After the incident, the police nominated 140 persons, out of which 34 are still at large. A tractor trolley, a broken TV, papers including ‘amulets’, a broken lock, torn police uniforms and wooden sticks – used in torturing the couple – were case properties.
Earlier, cases were also registered on the order of the Supreme Court against the policemen present at the crime scene. The diseased couple had two sons – Suleman Masih, 6, and Zeeshan Masih,4 – and two daughters – Sania,3, and 18-month-old Ponam.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2016.