Christian Sanitation Worker Brutally Tortured in Pakistan

On Saturday, May 25, a Christian sanitation worker in Lahore, Pakistan, was assaulted and left chained in blistering heat for hours by a group of Muslims, according to sources. Hussain Masih, father-in-law of the 35-year-old worker Yasir Masih, discovered him in the Gujjarpura area of Lahore, chained to a chair on the street.

“Masih’s entire body was badly bruised, and he was chained to a chair,” Hussain Masih said. “When he regained some strength, he told us that Malik Khadim Hussain, a resident of Gujjarpura, his son, and three others had held him hostage and tortured him for not immediately obeying their order to collect garbage and sweep the doorstep of their house.”

Although Yasir Masih’s main job was to clean the streets, he had often complied with the Muslim family’s requests to clean their area, his father-in-law said.

“Masih told Hussain that he would take care of the request as soon as he finished his official work and got busy,” said Hussain Masih. “A few minutes later, when Masih went to Hussain’s house, he was asked to clean the roof. When Masih went to the roof, Hussain, his sons, and the other men attacked him with iron rods, punches, and kicks.”

The Muslim family then chained him to a chair and held him hostage for hours, Hussain Masih reported.

“When they left Masih alone, he found an opportunity to escape, still chained to the chair,” he said. “He tripped down the stairs and dragged himself out of the gate into the street, where he collapsed. Some passers-by recognized him, which is how we learned of his whereabouts.”

Hussain Masih mentioned that his son-in-law had left for work around 5 a.m. Still, a few hours later, his supervisor came to their home saying he had not arrived at his designated work area in the Gujjarpura area of Lahore.

“We became worried and started searching for him,” Hussain Masih said. “Around 5 p.m., someone informed us that Masih had been found chained to a chair and lying unconscious in the street in Gujjarpura.”

He said that when they arrived at the site, they were shocked by the condition of Yasir Masih, a father of four children.

Yasir Masih’s family and friends later protested in front of the Lahore Press Club, demanding the registration of a First Information Report (FIR) and the arrest of the suspects. Senior police officials assured them that action would be taken, and police later arrested Malik Hussain and two others, although his sons were still at large.

“We only want justice for Masih,” Hussain Masih said. “He was persecuted just because he delayed an order from the influential Muslim landlords. Though the police have registered an FIR, we appeal to senior officials and our community leaders to ensure that all the accused are arrested, prosecuted, and punished for their barbarous act.”

Christian socio-political activist Sunil Gulzar said the incident further exposed the mindset of Pakistan’s Muslim majority toward marginalized and vulnerable sanitation workers, most of whom are Christian.

“Christian sanitation workers endure long shifts even in extreme weather conditions to keep the city clean,” Gulzar said. “Despite their dedicated service, these workers are often ridiculed and mistreated because of their Christian faith.”

He noted that while some Hindus also work in sanitation in Sindh Province, Muslims refuse such work as they see it as beneath them.

“It seems that sanitary workers are treated as children of a lesser god,” Gulzar said. “They frequently face salary delays and have no job security. They are discriminated against even by their Muslim colleagues, and now we are witnessing incidents of physical violence against these vulnerable people.”

Christians in Pakistan are often referred to as Chuhra (low caste), a derogatory term reserved for sanitation workers, reflecting their past as members of the subcontinent’s Hindu Chuhra caste historically associated with sweepers. Although many converted to Islam and Christianity, they continue to suffer the same disparagement and are relegated to jobs seen as degrading and defiling.

Road sweepers in Pakistan, mostly Christians, are also subjected to other abusive slurs in local languages.

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