A Christian man was killed by a Muslim fellow worker in Karachi’s Liaqatabad Jewellers Market on Sept 14 for allegedly blaspheming against the Holy Prophet (PBUH) but the deceased’s family and police say that the killing was the result of a business rivalry, Pakistan Today learnt on Friday.
George Masih told Pakistan Today on the telephone from Karachi that his father, 58-year-old Boota Masih, worked as a gold scavenger in the Liaqatabad Gold Market for 30 years, and that the killer, identified as Muhammad Asif, also gathered gold dust from jewellers’ rugs or work carpets at the market.
“We were told that Asif kept shouting that my father was an infidel and had spoken derogatory words against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as he mercilessly stabbed him and then slit his throat with a dagger,” 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,” claimed Masih.
Masih said the family had registered case No. 226/13 with the Liaqatabad Police Station, but that police were making little effort to arrest the murderer.
“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.
Liaqatabad 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 apparently jealous of Masih because most jewellers 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 (PBUH).”
Sub-Inspector Hamid Ali Gondal, who is investigating the case, told Pakistan Today 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,” he added.
“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.”