By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST Ministries and the ASSIST News Service
LONDON, UK (ANS – April 30, 2015) – The British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) is providing counselling and assistance to the four children of Christian couple Shahzad Masih and Shama Bibi, who was four months pregnant, when they were burned alive in a brick kiln last November for alleged blasphemy.
Their shocking extrajudicial killing to place at the brick Kiln of Yousaf Gujjar, a Muslim landowner in Kasur (near Lahore) in Pakistan.
The killing was sparked by the mob’s false belief the couple had desecrated a copy of the Koran. By the time the attack was over, only charred bones and the couple’s discarded shoes remained.
According to the BPCA, a crowd started beating the couple with clubs, stripped them naked, then paraded them in public, all of the time goading, and insulting them.
Eventually the perpetual beatings fractured the legs and arms of the victims, giving an indication of the severe and sheer brutality of the attack. The mob then dragged the distressed and aching couple towards the kiln’s furnace and shouted praises to Allah as they burnt them alive.
At the time, the couple already had four children – Suleman (8), Zeeshan (5) given to an uncle for adoption as they could not keep him at the time, Sonia (4) and Poonam (18 months).
“They all had to flee for their own safety,” said Wilson Chowdhry, founder of the British Pakistani Christian Association. “One brother remained and had to watch as the perpetrators of violence killed his brother and sister in-law before him. He was unable to offer any help and the torturous incident has left him in a frenzied state of mind.”
Some 75 men alleged to have taken part in the gruesome murder, including Mr. Gujjar, have since been arrested on charges of murder.
Chowdhry went on to say, “Attempts were also made to burn one of the children, but did not proceed when guilt manifested through the collective conscience of the violent mob.
“Since the incident, BPCA’s teams have been maintaining contact with the family providing counselling and assistance. Our live-out nanny team has been providing washing, cleaning and cooking services to the children and the maternal grandfather, who is currently the legal guardian, whilst a custody battle ensues over the long term placement of the children.
“The children have become pawns in a five way custody battle which include the maternal grandfather, paternal uncle, maternal uncle, the nonprofit Child Protection and Welfare Bureau, and the Legal Evangelical Association Development organization.”
He said that On Friday 13, 2015, BPCA sent its Pakistan officer, Mehwish Bhatti, to visit the family, to find out how the children were doing and how the UK-based group could use their benevolent fund to improve their quality of life.
After the visit, Bhatti said, “On meeting the children I noticed how excited they were to be seeing visitors. I brought them gifts of stationary and eatables the type that I enjoyed when their age, that are relatively healthy. The children were all in one room in a rented house, within Lahore, that was being paid for by the local Full Gospel Assembly Church.”
According to BPCA, Mehwish spent the day with the children preparing a “healthy cereal meal for them, drawing and writing and just sharing time with them.”
She also shared Bible stories with them and prayed with the children and the maternal grandfather. She said that the children did not know many Bible stories and so she left some children’s Christian books for them.
“They all baked cakes together and the children loved the interaction, it seemed liked they craved it,” she said.
Wilson Chowdhry said that Suleman “is aware of the death of his parents as he saw the full attack, while four-year-old Sonia understands her parents are no longer with her.
“She misses them and remembers people shouting at them and hitting her parents,” he added. “Sadly Sonia saw her parents being roasted alive as she was also picked up to be burnt with them, however the mob released her after a consensus refused to burn a child.
“Poonam survived being thrown to the ground by the men who first grabbed the couple, after breaking into the room they were imprisoned in. It is hard to tell what she remembers, however, it is believed her recollection of events will be limited due to her young years and distance from the final moments of her parents, as she was rapidly taken to safety by relatives, before the burning of her parents.”
Chowdhry then stated that a representative had informed him that he will be meeting with the Deputy Commissioner of the local police authority next week.
“He advises us that all 75 men arrested in the aftermath of the killing are still incarcerated, despite monthly attempts at obtaining bail,” he continued. “He feels confident that justice will be done, considering the genuine attempts by police officers to see through justice and court resilience to bail applications.”
The representative, “The children were clinging to me they were obviously bereft of a mother figure and it was a very emotional departure, as they were crying for me to stay. I hope something is done to resolve this gap in their emotional and spiritual needs.”
Pakistan’s brick kiln workers are often subject to harsh practices, with a study by the Bonded Labour Liberation Pakistan’s brick kiln workers are often subject to harsh practices, estimating that 4.5 million are indentured laborers.
Now, the British Pakistani Christian Association has launched a fund to help the children of the murdered couple and others who are suffering because of their faith in the predominately Muslim country.
If you would like to be a part of that process, by donating to their permanent benevolent fund, just go to www.britishpakistanichristians.co.uk/ or, if you wish to send a check, it should be made payable for the BPCA and mailed to their address: 57 Green Lane, Ilford, Essex, IG1 1XG, England.
Photo captions: 1) Nanny with children of Shama and Shahzad and Mehwish Bhatti (Photo: British Pakistani Christian Association. 2) Relatives of a Christian couple who were burnt alive for alleged blasphemy cry at their house in Kot Radha Kishan, near Kasur, Pakistan. 3) Campaigners protesting the killing of the couple. (Photo Asia Press)
Dan Wooding, 74, is an award-winning journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 51 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS) and he hosts the weekly “Front Page Radio” show on the KWVE Radio Network in Southern California and which is also carried throughout the United States and around the world. He is the author of some 45 books, the latest of which is a novel about the life of Jesus through the eyes of his mother called “Mary: My Story from Bethlehem to Calvary”. For more information, please go to http://marythebook.com/ where you can find details of how to order the book.
Note: If you would like to help ANS continue bringing you these stories, please go to www.assistnews.net and scroll down to make a much-appreciated donation.
** You may republish this or any of our stories with attribution to the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net).