By Mark Ellis —
A young Christian sanitation worker was gunned down on March 20th because he rejected a prominent Muslim’s order to clean his outhouse on Sunday, his day off, according to Morning Star News.
Noman Masih, 20, of Sheikhupura in Punjab Province, was the sole breadwinner of his family following the death of his father two years ago, his mother Khalida told Morning Star News.
Masih, who worked for the city sanitation department in place of his deceased father, had shown up for work early in the morning and then headed to a work site. “Suddenly two motorcyclists arrived there. One of them whipped out a pistol and opened fire on Noman, killing him instantly,” his mother said.
The assailants fled on their motorcycle after the attack, leaving two other men standing near Noman unharmed.
The primary suspect was arrested, but rights advocates note that many Muslims in Pakistan believe they can mistreat Christians without consequence because Christians lack the resources and status to find justice.
Daanu Chaddar was identified as the one who allegedly threatened Masih after he refused to sweep his outhouse on a Sunday, Kashif Naimet, the attorney representing the family, told Morning Star News.
“Noman refused, citing Sunday as his weekly day off,” Naimet said. Angered by the Christian’s refusal to submit to his demand, Chaddar allegedly told Noman to be ready to face “dire consequences,” as he would not take no for an answer from a “petty sanitary worker.”
Chaddar allegedly told Noman he would “cut off his legs and riddle his body with bullets” for defying his order, the attorney stated.
Police arrested Chaddar as the primary suspect. “Noman was a simple sanitary worker and had no enmity with anyone,” Naimet told Morning Star. “His refusal to clean the Muslim’s dera (outhouse) apparently led to his killing.”
Although Chaddar remains in police custody, there has been little progress in his prosecution, Naimet said. The relatives who witnessed the killing could identify the killers but have not been called in for questioning, he said.
About 350 Christians work in the city’s sanitation department, the head of the sanitary workers union told Morning Star. Muslims are hired for other departments.
There have been repeated incidents of prejudice against Christian sanitary workers, but Noman’s murder has sent a shockwave through the Christian community.
Bhatti said that Chaddar’s relatives were pressuring police and the victim’s family for a “reconciliation” agreement.
Muslims refer to sweepers and other Christian workers as Chuhras, a derogatory term for street sweepers, an occupation assigned only to those of “untouchable” social standing, a remnant of the caste system predating Pakistan’s predominantly Islamic society.
Christian rights activist Napolean Qayyum said that Christians make up 90 percent of sewage workers and an even higher percentage of sweepers in Pakistan.
“It’s no hidden secret that Muslims want to keep Christians in this degrading occupation,” Qayyum said. “Several job advertisements from government departments for posts of sweepers clearly state that the candidates must be non-Muslim; some even specify that they must be Christians.”
“Many Muslims find it hard to accept refusal by a ‘lowly’ Christian,” he said. “This is not the first time a Christian sanitary worker has been killed or subjected to violence for refusing to comply with unjust demands of persons from the Muslim majority. The situation won’t change for the better for Christian street sweepers and sanitation workers until the state realizes its responsibility toward all citizens regardless of their faith, caste and creed.”
Morning Star News helps to raise awareness about persecuted Christians worldwide. Learn more here