employers of three Christian
sanitation workers at a banquet/wedding hall in Gujranwala, Pakistan,
allegedly poisoned the three
workers Monday, killing two of them. At press time the third was struggling
for life in intensive care.
The father of the three
workers, Yousaf Masih, said the owner of the hall, along with the manager,
poisoned his sons because they were Christians who had dared to ask for pay owed
Imran Masih, 29, and
Irfan Masih, 25, died at the Ferozewala Pul Banquet & Marriage Hall after
being forced to drink something that was heavily poisoned, Yousaf Masih said.
The third worker, 23-year-old Aakash Masih, was in critical condition at the
Intensive Care Unit of Civil Hospital Gujranwala, in Punjab
“It appears from the
position they were in that they were forced to consume some kind of poisoned
drink, or a drug, and they were left there to die,” Yousaf Masih said. “The
administration of the banquet and wedding hall did not call a hospital or take
them to a hospital—instead they called us after the death of two of our loved
The Peoples Colony
police station has registered a murder and deception case against Imtiyas
Warriach, owner of the Ferozewala Pul Banquet & Marriage Hall, and hall
manager Abid Virk. At press time they remained at large.
The chief of the
Peoples Colony police station was not available for comment, but an officer told
Compass that the two suspects would be arrested soon.
The family learned of
the deaths when another of Yousaf Masih’s sons, 21-year-old Javed Masih,
received a telephone call at home from the owner, Warriach, saying that his
older brother Imran Masih was lying dead on the floor of the wedding
Because they had not
been paid, the three brothers had left the hall to work elsewhere before
returning this past weekend. Javed Masih said he spoke by telephone on Friday
with Warriach, when the owner called asking for his three brothers to
return to work.
“The owner and manager
of the wedding hall called me in the early morning of Dec. 11 and pleaded for my
three brothers to rejoin and start working,” Javed Masih said. “They promised to
reimburse their previous outstanding wages, as well as pay them a Christmas
bonus and overtime. At this my brothers agreed and went to work the next
When Yousaf and Javed
Masih were summoned to the wedding hall yesterday, they found Imran Masih and
Irfan Masih dead. Aakash Masih was alive but lying still on the floor, they
Yousaf Masih said his
sons had long told him that owner Warriach and manager Virk refused to pay their
daily wages, and that the managers and staff members at the hall spoke
derogatorily to them for being Christians.
“On demand of their
daily wages, the owner and manager had threatened them that they would continue
to work without payment or face the dire consequences,” Yousaf Masih said.
“After my sons rejoined as sanitation workers, both Warriach and Virk started to
make fun of them for leaving the job previously. Both the Muslim men mocked my
sons for being Christian and called them by pejorative names such as
Yousaf Masih, 47, told
Compass at the Sargodha offices of human rights group Rays of Development
Organization that his sons had worked at the same wedding hall since the day it
opened in 2005. Sobbing, he said that the owner and manager had never paid them
their full wages during that time, so they had begun looking for other work a
few weeks before the Islamic festival of sacrifice, called
Muslims refrain from
marrying during the Islamic month of
Muharram, so in the small window of time between the start of
that month and the end of the Eid-ul-Azha festival, wedding halls thrive and require all available
help, he said.
Javed Masih said the
bodies of Imran Masih and Irfan Masih were moved to the morgue at Civil Hospital
Gujranwala for autopsy.