Pak govt orders inquiry into death of Christian youth in jail | world | Hindustan Times
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Pak govt orders inquiry into death of Christian youth in jail

world Updated: Sep 16, 2009 23:20 IST

Pakistan government on Thursday ordered an inquiry into the death in mysterious circumstances of a Christian youth who was arrested on charges of blasphemy for allegedly desecrating the Quran.

Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti ordered the inquiry into the death of Fanish Masih alias Robert, 20, in the district jail at Sialkot on Wednesday. Taking serious notice of the incident, Bhatti directed the local administration and police to submit a report on it within 24 hours.

Bhatti said the death of Masih in police custody was "an unfortunate and sad event" and a complete inquiry will be conducted and the facts and medical report will be publicised.

"The government considers that it is its prime responsibility to protect the lives and properties of minorities, and will not allow anyone to break the law and harm the lives and properties of minorities," he said, adding the probe into Masih's death should consider all angles.

Officials of the Sialkot district jail claimed Masih committed suicide by hanging himself from a hook on the door of his cell. However, leaders of the minority Christian community alleged he was "tortured to death". Masih's family said several signs of torture were found on his body.

Punjab government on Thursday suspended jail superintendent and his deputy over Masih's death.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people attended Masih's funeral. Dozens of young mourners began pelting stones at police, who resorted to lathi-charge and fired tear gas into the crowd in Sialkot.