A Christian teenager who achieved academic excellence
despite years of institutional discrimination and peer bullying, was
killed by Muslim pupils whilst in a classroom environment in Vehari
District in the Punjab.
Against all the odds Sharoon Masih gained the highest scores at his
former school named Chack 461 EB, eponymous with its geographical
location. So convinced were the Christian teachers that Sharoon would be
a successful individual that they challenged his poverty-stricken
parents not to put him to work but to encourage him to pursue higher
education. His father Elyab Masih (35 yrs) saved some money from the
work he undertakes as a labourer on a brick kiln, paid for the admission
for Sharoon to join ‘MC Model Boys Government High School Burewala and
Sharoon was isolated from the very first day he joined his new high
school a consequence of being the only Christian within his form. His
parents told BPCA officer Mehwish Bhatti that he suffered targeted abuse
from the day he started on 25th August 2017.
Sharoon’s mother Riaz Bibi (30 yrs) told us Sharoon was warned by his
peers not to mix with Muslims at school. One boy is believed to have
said ‘You’re a Christian don’t dare sit with us if you want to live’.
Many boys called Sharoon a ‘chura’ which is a very derogatory term
against Christians. Moreover there were repeated attempts to convert him
to Islam, Sharoon however, never quit his faith to the chagrin of the
Muslim children around him exacerbating his pariah status.
Though it must have been very difficult attending a school in which
you enter as anathema, Sharoon used the segregation imposed on him to
study and was noticeably one of the top performers in his classroom,
even within the few days he had been at his new school. His academic
prowess however, only added to the disdain for him felt by other pupils.
Even then Sharoon Masih could never expect the brutality that led to
his death on 27th August 2017.
On the day of the incident, whilst in a classroom, Sharoon was
brutally beaten by many of his fellow students on only his fourth day at
the school. The violence was of such sickening ferocity that poor
Sharoon died where he was in the classroom.
Early pupil reports suggest that the teacher overseeing the classroom
ignored the brutal mauling of a despised Christian. However the teacher
has since claimed he was reading a newspaper and did not notice the
attack. Later the head teacher stated that the attack occurred between
classroom sessions and that one teacher was late on arrival allowing the
incident to occur without notice.
All the reports state that as Sharoon was beaten a cacophony of
insults were shouted at Sharoon, in what must have been a nightmarish
last moment of life for the Christian teenager. Questions are being
asked about the inactivity of ‘the classroom teacher’ and the duty of
care of other teachers in the vicinity. Especially considering not one
of the teachers reacted to the noise emitted from the melee.
The Schools governing body have already taken action against the Head Teacher who has been dismissed from his post. Reports about the trigger factor for the brutal murder vary, however a
main culprit Muhammad Ahmed Rana has already confessed and has been
arrested and detained by local police. Sadly few other students feel
any remorse for killing a Christian and no-one is willing to implicate
the other murderers by naming them. The parents of Sharoon believe the
wall of silence reveals the contempt that these students have for
Christians and the low value placed on their lives.