By Jawad Mazhar, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent Reporting from Pakistan
OKARA, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife) -- Widow Zeenat Javed was still awaiting justice Sunday, August 10, four months after her Christian husband was killed for refusing to vote for a Muslim candidate in elections in Pakistan's Punjab province.
Javed said her Christian husband, Javed Masih, was killed in April when supporters of a Muslim candidate for the Punjab Aseembly, identified as Mohammad Abdul Sattar, opened fire on Christians who apparently refused to vote for him. News of the incident comes shortly after in a separate incident, local police reopened an investigation into the death of another young Christian man, Adeel Masih, who was allegedly killed for having a relationship with a Muslim woman.
"Abdul Sattar came to Christian Village on April 10th, 2008, with his gang and opened fire on Christians who didnâ€™t vote for him in the Joint Election System," under which Muslims support Christians and Christians back Muslim politicians, said rights group Christian Youth Fellowship-Pakistan CYF.
"Javed Masih died on spot by firing, while [fellow Christian] Irshaad Masih was seriously injured,â€ the group said in a statement to BosNewsLife.
It is not clear if Sattar was directly involved in the shooting, although local Christians say he was. Mohammad Abdul Sattar was a candidate for a seat in the Punjab Assembly, the province's parliament, for Okara District. He approached Christians of the village of Chak 10/4-L Antonia to vote in his favor, and "threatened Christian villagers of dire consequences, in case they did not caste vote in his favor," villagers said.
He campaigned on a platform of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), which have assured protection for minority the Christians, who have complained of discrimination and violence. Muhammad Sharif, an accomplice of Abdul Sattar along with others have threatened to demolish the village. They could not be reached for comment.
Although the CYF and local Christians have brought the case to the attention of police, the alleged suspects remain at large. The widow of Javed Masih said she has doubts about the for selected Christian members of PPP and PML (N) who are in government. "Why killers of my husband are still free? Where is fruit of Joint Election System,?" she said in a statement obtained by BosNewsLife.
"My husband is killed and they who proclaim that their fight is for Christians and not their own interests or portfolios, are enjoying government privileges," she said.
It comes as a police inspector has reopened the case and taken two Muslim suspects into custody for their alleged involvement in the killing of Adeel Masih, 19, who was found dead on May 4 in the Pakistani town of Hafizabad, according to Christian rights investigators.
His family and human rights lawyers believe the relatives of a 19-year-old Muslim woman, Kiran Irfan, with whom Masih had a one-year relationship, tortured and killed him. Members of the Masih family said that when they first tried to register the case with local police three months ago, officers did not cooperate because the suspects were Muslim and the victim was a Christian, according to the Center for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS).
â€œThe police said, â€˜We will first inquire whether Adeel has committed suicide,â€™ because the culprits told the police about the fact that their daughter wanted to embrace Christianity because of Adeel,â€ said Aneeqa Maria, a case worker for CLAAS. â€œ[In] this way the police were biased and lingered on the matter, because if there is a long delay in the lodging of a first incidence report, the case becomes weak.â€ It remained unclear Sunday, August 10, if and when Muslim suspects will be prosecuted.
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