Driven to desperation by poverty, a recently sacked factory worker in Faisalabad shot his entire family before turning the gun on himself.
Muhammad Qasim, 45, lost his job last year after the factory he worked for shut down due to gas shortage. Five months down the lane, Qasim and his family of six were found lying in a pool of blood.
According to estimates, around 600 to 700 factories, which rely solely on gas, have shut down due to the power cuts. In Faisalabad alone, the energy crisis has rendered some 300,000 to 400,000 workers of textile mills jobless.
Police sources told The Express Tribune that Qasim used a double-barrel shotgun to shoot his 30-year-old wife Aasia and four children, Maryam, 7, Ali Raza, 6, Riaz Ali, 5 and one-year-old Ayesha while they were asleep. He asked his eldest son, Asif, 18, who was working night shift at a textile mill, to come home early and then shot him as soon as he stepped into the house.
Aasia’s sister, Sajjdah, said the couple had been fighting over financial issues and added that Qasim was unable to find another job.
Zaim Hussain, Qasim’s neighbour, said they grew suspicious after realising that none of the family members stepped out of their house on Tuesday. Upon being alerted, the police forcibly entered Qasim’s house and found seven bodies, with bullet wounds, lying in a pool of blood.
The bodies were sent for post-mortem to a local hospital after which they were shifted to Muzaffargarh – the victims’ hometown.
Senior Superintended Police Operation Sadiq Doggar said that such incidents were becoming common in Faisalabad due to the high unemployment rate in the city.
He added that unemployment was also a major reason behind a rapid increase in crimes, such as robberies.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) chairperson Zohra Yousuf termed the incident ‘tragic’ and said that poverty was the main cause of such incidents. “The gap between the poor and rich is widening, and there is no safety net for the poor,” she said.
Pakistan witnessed an unprecedented rise in suicides driven by poverty in the last two years, following the case of the man who, out of poverty, set himself on fire outside Parliament, she added.
According to the HRCP, 1,600 people ended their lives in 2011 out of desperation and misery,
(With additional reporting by Shamsul Islam in Faisalabad)
Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2013.
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