[Anglican Communion News Service] The Church of Pakistan has said a Christian couple beaten and burned in a brick kiln was revenge for unpaid bills, not because they had damaged a Qur’an.
A member of the united church, that comprises several Christian denominations including Anglicans, yesterday sent a message to supporters to clarify media reports about the murders.
The statement, from Raheel Sharoon, development officer of the Diocese of Raiwind, clarified that the crime was motivated by revenge after a disagreement over a debt rather than any blasphemy against Islam on the part of these young parents.
“By this time you might have heard through media about the brutal killing of a Christian couple in Kot Radha Kishan (close to Raiwind) on the pretext of desecration of Holy Quran. This family lived close to Clarkabad, which is a Christian village about 25 km from the city of Raiwind. Today I, along with Bishop Samuel Azariah and some other colleagues, visited the family for condolence and to investigate the real facts. So here are our findings:
“On Tuesday, November 04, 2014 at 06:00 a.m. (01:00 a.m. GMT) a mob of 1500-1600 people, from the Muslim Religious Community of nearby villages, gathered near the village of Clarkabad. This mob was gathered on the pretext that a Christian couple belonging to the said village and working as brick kiln workers had allegedly desecrated the pages of Holy Qur’an by burning them in the brick kiln furnace.
“The couple, Shehzad and Shamaa [Bibi], were pulled out of their house. Family of the victims called the police through emergency number, on which five policemen from the local police atation arrived and tried to pull away Shehzad and Shamma from the clutches of the crowd. Their efforts went in vain as they were overwhelmed by the mob which snatched away the victims.
“After that, the mob gathered around the brick kiln where Shehzad and Shamaa used to work and where the alleged desecration took place. They tore away the clothes of Shehzad and Shamaa, and paraded them naked around the brick kiln twice before attacking them and beating them to near death. At the time of this happening Shamaa was four months pregnant.
“After thoroughly beating both the victims, they threw them in the furnace of the brick kiln and burned them alive. When the family of the victims went to claim the dead bodies, all they found were few bones.
“The real story is that the owner of brick kiln, Yousaf Gujjar, lent some money to the couple and when he asked for the money to be returned there was a confrontation since majority of brick kiln workers cannot return their loans in cash but do it by working at the brick kiln. After which he started spreading rumors of desecration of the Holy Qur’an.
“The role of police is of total negligence since all this went on for quite a while and this place is about 25 minute drive from Lahore; while the local media only shared this news as a Christian couple being burned by an angry mob without sharing the pretext of the misuse of religious fervor. As for local Government they only played their role to make sure this story does not reaches the masses and becomes big.”
Sharoon also shared links to videos in which the brother of the deceased couple, Iqbal, and their cousin, Javed Shahbaz, sharing the details of the ordeal.