A Christian man who was shot at by an armed neighbour in Peshawar following a minor brawl breathed his last on June 24, with questions raised whether the incident had religious basis.
Nadeem Joseph, his mother in law and son in law were fired at by his neighbor, identified as Suleman Khan in the neighborhood on June 2, with an FIR of the incident registered at a local police station.
In this video statement prior to his death, Joseph had said that he moved to a house that he bought a house in the TV Colony. “The person who lived in front of my house was an armed criminal who would call me to his house and treated me quite badly,” he said. “He would tell me how he had killed and tortured people.” Joseph added that the police seemed powerless to take action against the man wand would not take action against him.
Joseph further said he was videotaping the man, identified as Suleman Khan, on the day of the incident when he was brandishing his gun. “When they found out that I was videotaping them, then they tortured be and fired at me.”
Peshawar’s investigative reporter Lehaz Ali told Naya Daur that the issue was based on the motorcycle’s silencer, which created a lot of misunderstandings. He said that residents in the neighborhood had told Joseph’s son to not use the motorcycle without the silence due to the disturbance caused, but he continued to do so, eventually causing a fight. Ali added that neither the FIR of the brawl, registered a month ago, nor the initial statement by Joseph had any mention that he was targeted for being a member of a minority.
According to Joseph’s brother in law Yasir, the accused was beating Joseph’s son when they suddenly opened fire, injuring him. He denied that he had taken the silencer out from the bike or driving fast.
Joseph’s family sources said Suleman had asked Joseph on the day he moved to the neighborhood whether he was a Muslim. And, when told he was a Christian, was asked why he had bought a property in a Muslim dominated area. He continued to harass Joseph and, when Joseph asked him why he was doing so, he said he would find out soon.
Although it is not confirmed if it was a faith-based crime, but targeted attacks against religious minorities have turned into a norm in the country, requiring thorough investigation.
Joseph had also approached police for help, but to no avail. Following the incident, police arrested a number of family members of the accused who managed to flee from the scene.
According to Joseph’s wife who spoke to the media earlier at the hospital, they fear the attackers may also harm other family members. “They had themselves told us that they have killed people before,” she added.