Family of Pakistani prisoner murdered in India demands justice

Shakirullah’s murder took place a few days after the Pulwama attack

Earlier this week, Shakirullah, a Pakistani prisoner in Indian captivity, was stoned to death by other inmates at Jaipur Central Jail in Rajasthan.

The news broke a 16-year long silence for Shahzad Gulfaam, the brother of the ill-fated Shakirullah. He watched the dreadful news of his only brother’s murder play before his eyes on TV channels. Then he picked up a pen and wrote a note on a placard. It read: “We appeal Prime Minister Imran Khan to bring the dead body of my brother.”

Shahzad along with his wife and a friend stood in front of Karachi Press Club to catch the media’s attention so that his plea could be conveyed to the higher-ups. He also held a passport-sized photograph of Shakirullah with the placard.

Shahzad informed Geo News that they are a Christian family. Shakirullah (once Shakir Jaleel) converted to Islam in his 20s but the family never argued about it. “We call the same God for help,” he said.

“In 2003, Shakir left home to attend a mela (festival) of Barapir in Shakargarh along with his friends. He never came back. His friends informed us that he was lost. We started a search in adjacent villages but our efforts bore no result, and with the passage of time all hope faded away. We had an idea that he had crossed the border,” Shahzad told Geo News.

The distraught family shared that Shakir’s mental health was compromised since childhood. That was why he was never employed.

“Despite compromised mental health, he was loving and was never involved in any sort of aggression. He was the youngest sibling among two brothers and three sisters,” Shahzad’s voice was torn with grief as he recalled their childhood. Shahzad lives in Junejo Town, an area adjacent to Defence View of Karachi. He is a painter by profession.

“I saw him in pictures and only heard stories about him. Shahzad shifted to Karachi from Sialkot and we got married here in 2006,” said Robina, Shahzad’s wife. “We strongly appeal to the government of Pakistan to bring his body back and to the Indian government to punish the culprits.”

“He was tortured and then murdered… Indian extremists overreacted to the Pulwama [incident] and killed my innocent brother. We were unfortunate not to see him [return] alive but we want to perform his rituals in our homeland, in the country of Shakirullah,” Shahzad said as he wiped his tears and tried to control his trembling voice.

Shakirullah’s murder took place a few days after the Pulwama attack, after India levelled baseless allegations against Pakistan of being involved in the incident in occupied Kashmir.