Is Media Calling the Shots? Confusing Reports About Nouman Masih’s Death

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Nouman Masih succumbed to his injuries last Wednesday. A day before his death, he had been stable enough to talk to visitors and had a special medical team looking after his health. A skin grafting treatment had also been done on him.

He had suffered from 55% burns and had been doused in petrol by two strangers who inquired about his faith. In an interview Nouman has told of the incident in great detail.

An FIR had been registered by Naumans uncle, in the Gulshan-e-Ravi Police Station in the presence of police, family members and political and religious leaders, with his nephew in hospital and the Chief Minister had taken special notice of the incident. It is a fact that it is extremely difficult for the Christian Community in Pakistan to lodge an FIR against any crime but Nouman’s uncle had some luck due to the Chief Ministers orders.

Days after Nauman Masih burial, conflicting reports have emerged in national media. It is now a known fact that Nouman had been living with his uncle and aunt after his parent’s death. His father had left his 3 Marla house in Nouman name. A leading English daily Express Tribune has reported the incident and the investigating officers reports as, “We have recorded the statement of Nauman’s grandfather. He has accused Nauman’s uncle, Nadeem, and his wife, for ordering the attack. He said the couple wants to kill Nauman to get his three-Marla house. Nauman’s father had passed away three months ago.”

World Watch Monitor has also reported that a similar interpretation of the story was publicized by Dunya News. However, no major media agency have paid heed to the fact that Nauman had narrated the incident him self in the recorded interview.

Senior Police have rejected all media reports of Nauman being burnt because of his religion. The dying statement was also not recorded because the police claimed conflicting views of the cause of the incident.

Allegations of family involvement in the event still remain unclear. The Christian community although fear that it might be a media conspiracy to suppress the fact that “he was killed for his faith”.

Media gimmicks had also come to notice in the recent incident of Youhanabad bombing when Dr. Shahid Masood, leading talk show host said, “If the matter had stopped [with the bombings], then it would have been a gold mine for a few people,” he said on 17 March. “There are many ‘aunties’ who wander around and [talk about] NGOs, dollars, [the] Christian community … You know dollars are sent when such things happen. These ‘aunties’ come out clamoring that injustice has taken place for religious minorities … They start sighing with pain … But their enthusiasm was dampened because they [the mob] – the Christians or God knows who they were – killed two innocents; they were totally innocent.”

Dr. Masood immediately declared those who were lynched innocent again not acknowledging those who were killed in the attacks. After the public lynching hundreds were arrested and continue to be tortured by the police, and again the media only rants about the destruction of public property and demands human rights for the two people who were burnt after the blasts. Human rights do not apply to those who died inside the church.

As the media manipulates the situation, and government authorities choose to remain silent, the real reason behind the death of young Nauman still remains unclear.