LAHORE: A teenage boy, who was set ablaze allegedly by two unidentified men in Gulshan Ravi a few days ago, died in hospital on Wednesday.
Nauman Masih, 13, of Nawan Kot was admitted to Mayo Hospital where after four days of treatment he could not survive.
Meanwhile, some media reports gave the incident a religious angle claiming the boy, a Christian, was set ablaze by two Muslims for his faith. Rejecting all such reports, senior police officials claimed the real motive behind the incident had not been ascertained yet.
Police also denied recording the boy’s ‘dying declaration’ at the hospital, saying the contradictory statements of three persons -- Nauman’s paternal uncle Nadeem Masih, his tailor Muneer and maternal grandfather Heera Masih -- had made the investigation complicated.
“No dying declaration/statement was recorded by police due to the life-threatening condition of the boy,” Acting Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Rana Ayaz Saleem, head of the investigations wing, told Dawn.
He added that police officials visited the hospital several times to record Nauman’s statement but were unable to do so due to the severity of burn injuries, which were said to be above 40pc. He claimed police had lodged a first information report (FIR) on the complaint of Nadeem who had alleged in his application that two unidentified men had set Nauman ablaze by pouring kerosene oil over him. The DIG said the applicant did not mention the assailants were Muslims.
Inquires took a turn when Heera in a written application alleged that Nauman was set on fire by Nadeem. The DIG said Heera had also filed an application with police for an FIR nominating Nadeem and his wife for setting the boy on fire to grab his property. He further said Nauman’s parents had separated after which his mother Shazia remarried and left her children. Later, his father passed away.
He said Nauman’s father Rafaqat Masih had transferred his only house in the name of Nauman. After Rafaqat’s death, Nauman started living with his paternal uncle Nadeem. His grandfather Heera had filed the application in the context of this property dispute, he added.
The DIG said police experts were analysing the statements of Nadeem, Heera and tailor Muneer to reach a conclusion.
“Nauman told me three days before the incident that he had a feeling he might be set ablaze. When I asked him who will do that he said it was just his sixth sense,” the DIG quoted Muneer as telling police in his statement. Nauman was a worker at Muneer’s shop.
The DIG said Nadeem had also recorded the same statement with police. Statements of the two men showed the boy was not religiously victimised, he added. He official further said during investigations so far no witness to the incident had been found.
To a question, DIG Saleem said neither the boy was a cleric nor member of any non-governmental organisation and it was out of question to call his death religiously motivated. He added there were no reports suggesting the boy was an activist or involved in any provocative or sensitive issue that could have become the motive behind his killing. He dispelled the impression being created by some media reports that the boy was killed for his faith.
“Hundreds of thousands of Christians are working at houses or offices of Muslims across the country,” the DIG said, adding that with so many Christians earning their livelihood by working for Muslims, the likelihood of Nauman being killed for his faith was little.
Heera confirmed to Dawn that he had filed an application with police in which he held Nadeem and his wife responsible for killing Nauman over a property dispute.
“But I am facing pressure from my family and other relatives to withdraw the application,” he claimed.
When asked about the reason he was being asked to withdraw the application, Heera said he could not pursue the case due to financial constraints. To a question about Nauman’s murder on religious basis, he said he did not know as he was not present at the crime scene.
“We have decided to withdraw the application on Thursday (today)”, Heera added.
Published in Dawn, April 16th, 2015
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