On November 4, 2014, a Christian couple was burnt alive in brick Kiln. They were attacked by a criminal minded mob. Who didn’t think anything that either they have law and order of the country but they just satisfied their internal purpose by burning not only a poor couple but a whole family.
We can’t forget the ill-fated Shama and Shahzad Masih, the Christian couple from Kasur’s Kot Radha Kishan district in a brick kiln village called Chak 59?
The husband and wife; the poor wife who was pregnant at the time, they were falsely accused in 2014 of blasphemy then lynched by a mob who first strolled them naked and then set them on fire.
Five years have passed almost since that terrifying ordeal.
As their legacy, the couple left behind a woeful tale of mob cruelty, of the extreme misuse of the country’s blasphemy laws; and even the question of the cruel treatment meted out to brick kiln workers who are modern day ‘slaves’.
But they also left behind three little children, who have now relocated to the city, away from the horrors of the dusty and a smoky brick kiln where their parents once worked.
In Remembrance of Shama and Shahzad
Ten-year-old Suleman, the eldest of the three, was the only one to have seen what happened to his parents on that cursed day. His relatives confirmed, who are now the guardians of the children, say he was extremely shaken and deeply affected by the tragedy.
Little Poonam, who was just two years old at that time, had fallen down. Quick to act, their maternal aunt had picked her up and the other two children and had escaped the scene before the mob turned on them.
“Suleman had bad dreams for a long time. He would often wake up screaming for his parents,” says Mukhtiar Masih, Shama’s father, who now has full care of the three.
Even now the children are a little nervous when meeting strangers.
As if to verify a point he turns to them and asks blatantly “You remember Mama and Papa?” The children nod.
Something stirs in them. Suleman goes to the cupboard, climbs to the top most shelf and takes out a banner with photographs of his late parents. It is the only picture he has of his father.
“That’s him, that’s my father,” he says pointing to the picture of a thin, skinny man, with a mustache and the trace of stubble on his face.
“Ae Mama ni ai (This isn’t Mummy),” says Sonia, her face falling slightly, as she looks at the woman.
All three children can speak only in Punjabi.
The media has mistakenly been using a picture of Shahzad and another girl, captioning them as pictures of the couple.
But the woman in the photo is truly Shahzad’s niece, who is alive and fine.
Unluckily, it was the cruel end of their parents that helped break the shackles of bonded labor for the children.
Today, Suleman, 10, Sonia, 8, and Poonam, 6, go to school frequently and try to live their lives like ordinary children; but forever haunted by the ruthlessness of the day their parents were murdered.