Shattered widow of Christian lynched in Pakistan dies

Allah Rakhi Bibi and Nazeer Masih Gill.
Allah Rakhi Bibi and Nazeer Masih Gill. | (Courtesy of family)

Not a day passed when Allah Rakhi Bibi would not cry for her husband Nazeer Masih Gill, beaten to death at 74 by a Muslim mob on a false blasphemy accusation a month ago.

On Friday (June 21), the grieving widow could bear the suffering no longer, and she died of cardiac arrest, relatives said. She was 72.

Her son Sultan Gill told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News that his mother constantly thought and talked about his father since he succumbed on June 3 to his injuries from the May 25 attack.

“The tears in her eyes never dried,” Sultan Gill said. “She would recall the good times they had spent together and would then cry out his name. A few hours before she passed away, my mother wept and said that life had become meaningless for her after my father’s death. She would say, ‘He has left me alone, and I can’t bear this anymore.’”

Gill said his mother questioned why such tragedy had to happen to their family.

“Her pain and agony apparently worsened when she overheard some family members talking about the bails being granted to the people involved in my father’s killing,” he said amid sobs. “We tried our best to keep this information from her, but we failed.”

Gill said that on Friday afternoon Bibi started complaining of chest pain.

“We called for a government ambulance, but the paramedics told us that the pain was probably due to stress,” he said. “They said it was useless to take her to the area’s hospital since it was the time for Friday prayers, and no senior doctor would be available there to look after her.”

The paramedics gave her some medication and left.

“When her situation did not stabilize, we took her to the hospital, but she couldn’t survive,” Gill said. “The duty doctor there said she had suffered cardiac arrest.”

Gill said his mother’s body was buried the same day next to that of her husband.

“Our lives have been completely shattered – all family members, including our children, are suffering from depression and stress,” he said. “We have lost our business, and are forced to live in our own house as refugees. The release of the people involved in the killing of my father is akin to rubbing salt on our wounds. We’ve already lost hope for justice, and now my mother has also left us.”

Bail Granted

Special Judge Anti-Terrorism Court Sargodha Muhammad Abbas on June 13 granted bail to the suspects, including three persons named in the First Information Report (FIR).

The Urban Area Police Station had registered an FIR on behalf of the state against 44 named and 300 to 400 unidentified suspects. The case was registered under several sections of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997 and Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), including murder, attempt to murder, obstructing public officials in discharging their duty, assaulting a public official and mischief by fire or explosive material with intent to destroy a house or cause death or hurt.

Abbas admitted the suspects’ pleas, in which they claimed that police had implicated them in the case only on the basis of suspicion. They stated that officers failed to specify their roles in the attack, and none of the 18 witnesses had identified them.

“Moreover, nothing has been recovered from their possession,” they added.

Accepting the petitions, the judge ordered the suspects’ release on bail against surety bonds of 100,000 rupees (US$360) each.

Attorney Asad Jamal said he regretted the release of the suspects but was anticipating it because of the police’s “intentional” poor investigation.

“The police’s conduct was suspicious from the onset,” Jamal told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News. “The investigators neither preserved the crime scene nor made any attempt to interrogate the detained suspects. The suspects were arrested and sent to jail on the same day, whereas the police should have sought their physical remand for interrogation to record their ‘first version’ statements to link their involvement in the incident.”

The Muslim lawyer, who has represented several people falsely accused of blasphemy, including Christians, was part of a fact-finding mission of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) that termed Gill’s lynching a “calculated assault, manipulated through religious fervor to gain maximum leverage.”

Jamal said it was clear that police had deliberately recorded statements of false witnesses to damage the case.

“They should have identified neighbors who witnessed the entire incident and recorded their statements, but it was not done,” he said. “Moreover, the police have not recorded the statements of Gill’s family to date.”

Jamal said police were not sharing any information with Gill’s family, though they are a natural party to the case.

Pakistan ranked seventh on Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List of the most difficult places to be a Christian, as it was the previous year.