On January 23, 2010, an innocent 12-year old child Shazia was reported to have been tortured to death. She had been employed as a maid in Advocate Naeem’s house who, along with his family members, including his wife, son and sister-in-law, has been accused of inflicting torture on her. The brutal murder of Shazia Bashir Masih on one hand urges us to take concrete steps to eliminate child labor and on the other hand, tells us to voice out against inhumane treatment of maid-servants working in rich houses to feed their families – Out of poverty
The murder of 12-year old child Shazia, working as a housemaid in the house of Advocate Chaudhry Naeem (Ex-President – Lahore Bar Association) has been widely reported and strongly condemned by all (including Chief Minister Punjab and the President of Pakistan). It is, indeed, something that we must all denounce.
The accused is a powerful man, for some of my lawyer friends say one has to invest 2-3 Crore PKR (at least) to win LBA elections, LBA is one of biggest Bars of Asia, and the president enjoys a powerful position in our corrupted society.
The case, when I heard about it from a friend seemed quite simple. I had not known the accused till then, but after getting to know it was him, I tried digging in the case, just to find out if the “lawyer-fraternity” was up to something notorious, something they are aptly famous for.
For those of you who don’t know, lets keep it simple. Have you heard about teenage-boy gangs, fighting with other boys on the back of their “gang”, we call it ghunda gardi. Similarly, some lawyers form “gangs” and force the court/police to do the most inhumane/unjust things on the backs of their “gangs”, the judicial setup of Pakistan is ruled by some of these “gangs”. This particular case, the accused is one of the leading men of such a gang. It is very easy for a man of his influence to utilize his “gang” to his advantage even if he murders someone.
According to her parents, Advocate Naeem told them that their daughter had been admitted to Jinnah Hospital and when they arrived, Shazia was already dead. They brought her dead body back to their residence because the police had refused to register a case or conduct an autopsy (the “gang” was working). It was only after the incident was widely reported in the media and authorities at the highest levels took notice that the police registered a case and took the body for a post-mortem.
The shameless episode of this inhuman drama happened when accused Mohammad Naeem Advocate accompanied with a Brigadier, reached in hut of poor parents of Shazia Bashir and threatened not to raise voice and offered 15000 Rs as bribe. (15000 Rs for a human life, see the worth of human life in his eyes?)
Fortunately, after pressure from high-ups (thanks to media), the police have arrested the main accused.
Defence-A Police produced Naeem advocate before the court on Tuesday. The police submitted that the deceased’s body had 18 bruises, 13 of them were inflicted by a rusted weapon and five were caused by a sharp-edged weapon.
The “gang” worked at its best, in front of the world when lawyers ganged up against media persons as police produced advocate Naeem Chaudhry before a Cantt court on Tuesday. The lawyers, who thronged the Cantt court from all parts of the city, not only barred Shazia’s family members and sympathizers from the court room but also the media persons. They literally pushed the media persons and restricted them to a corner of the court. Policemen present there visibly sided with the rowdy lawyers. Rather they asked the media persons to confine themselves to a corner. The lawyers who outnumbered the policemen and media persons shouted abuses and anti-media slogans. They vented their anger on what they called media trial of a senior lawyer and a former Lahore Bar Association president. Sadly, none of them thought about the poor girl who fell a victim allegedly to the lawyer and his family’s brutality.
Their conduct on Tuesday was that as if a lawyer was above the law and he or she could not be pleaded in a court of law. Reportedly the present Lahore Bar Association office-bearers were instrumental into organizing the lawyers to stop the trail of their colleague and pressuring the police. Their presence in large numbers lent credence to this.
According to the post-mortem report, Shazia had been physically abused for a long period of time and the wounds on her body prove that she had been beaten up ruthlessly with some sharp, pointed tool.
Chaudary Naeem in his statement today, said that the victim fell from stairs. That is the best he could think of. He even tried to change her name when he reported her to the hospital, it was later found out the poor kid was actually Shazia Bashir Masih.
“I do not consider the man a lawyer who hires a 13-year girl as maid” – Athar Minallah, former spokesperson for CJP Iftikhar Chaudary.
The indifferent attitude of “corporate” humanitarians, who rallied for Imanae Malik (another girl of 3, who died due to negligence of Doctors Hospital Lahore and belonged to a “rich” family) and don’t protest on streets, with the same vigor, for a poor Christian maidservant points out at another brutal truth of our society.
I am keeping my eyes open, for if it was not for the media; we had not gotten to know about this atrocity and the accused had easily influenced his way to innocence. So many Shazias suffer daily, only some make it to the news and we shall make sure examples are made – Be it Ex-President Lahore Bar Association, be it GHQ, be it any echelon of power. We shall stand up against injustice, for our “land of pure” will not change as long injustice prevails.
All teams playing in National Wheelchair Cricket Tournament ’10, alongwith the management and crowd will wear black bands to show solidarity with Shazia. And if till then, justice is not served, I promise to protest on streets, even if you stand by me or not. Till then, will Shazia Masih get justice or just-ice?
- Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi
Courtesy: The News, Dawn, Daily Times