April 13, 2024

LAHORE: In a busy maze of little streets deep contained in the Shah Jamal space of Lahore, one prayer dominated the Easter Day service on the United Church of Lahore on Sunday: for the return of 35-year-old Shaam Arif Massey, who wandered outdoors his residence in November final 12 months and by no means returned. 

The disappearance of Shaam, who grew up with a studying incapacity after traumatic mind accidents sustained as a toddler, has shaken the tight-knit Christian neighborhood of Fazlia Colony and its surrounding areas, residence to roughly 300 Christian households and the place Shaam’s household has lived for 40 years in a two-bedroom residence constructed by his grandfather.

Although it was Easter Sunday, there have been few indicators of celebration within the neighborhood the place Shaam’s case has turn into symbolic of the bigger plight of Pakistan’s Christian neighborhood, which kinds lower than 2 % of the Muslim-majority nation’s inhabitants of 241 million and lives principally in poverty or in concern of assaults.

Parveen Massey, Shaam’s mom and a cleaner at Lahore’s Jinnah Hospital, informed Arab Information she returned residence from work on Nov. 13 final 12 months to search out that Shaam was not sitting on his normal spot on the entrance steps of the household residence.

“I requested my grandsons, ‘The place’s Shaam?’ They mentioned he hadn’t come residence since morning. I mentioned, ‘Why didn’t you inform me? I’d have rushed residence from work’ … No person informed me and your entire day had handed,” Massey mentioned.


The image shared by Parveen Massey on March 31, 2024, exhibits an undated {photograph} of 35-year-old Shaam Arif Massey, who went lacking in Lahore, Pakistan, in November 2023. (AN photograph)

The police grievance was registered the identical night.

“However 5 months on, the police haven’t even come to see our home or the place we dwell. In 5 months, they’ve by no means checked in on us. I simply go on my own, alone and stand at their [police station] gate.”

The involved police station is the Icchra Police Station positioned a number of hundred meters from the Massey residence. Shaam’s mom final visited two weeks in the past, with policemen shooing her away saying they have been looking for Shaam.
 
“However I’m the one one wanting,” she mentioned as she confirmed a replica of the First Info Report (FIR), or police grievance.

“DEAD ENDS”

After a mind damage at age seven which led to a path of unlucky occasions from lacking prescriptions to hospital malpractice and the household’s incapacity to afford his care payments, Shaam acquired unknown medicines and tranquilizers over a few years at numerous psychological well being institutes in Lahore, based on his household.

As soon as the medicines have been discontinued a number of years in the past, Shaam stopped talking for probably the most half and spent his days on the small rooftop of his residence feeling the solar and air on his face together with his canine Daisy by his aspect — till the day he disappeared and not using a hint.

On the Ichhra Police Station, the famed constructing the place the homicide case in opposition to Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was first filed again in 1974, the officer assigned to Shaam’s case, Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) Akbar Ali, was not accessible for remark. 

His colleague sub-inspector Muhammad Ali agreed to talk with Arab Information however had few solutions on the case, together with if police have been reviewing CCTV footage.

“I can inform you that again when the federal government began the Secure Metropolis surveillance program, issues have been simple. It was simple to trace crime and lacking individuals,” he mentioned, referring to an AI-driven policing system launched in 2015.

“However now the cameras aren’t maintained, their line of imaginative and prescient is blurred by objects and bushes that no one bothers adjusting, and admittedly, we simply don’t have sufficient of them [cameras] … And so, we get to useless ends in such instances.”


Parveen Massey holds an image of her lacking son, Shaam Arif Massey, who went lacking in 2023, in Lahore, Pakistan, on March 31, 2024. (AN photograph)

Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora, Punjab Minister for Minorities Affairs, didn’t reply to telephone calls searching for remark. 

With little assist from police, Shaam’s household, together with his older sister Fazeelat Fakhar who works as a babysitter on the properties of Lahore’s elite households, has turned to utilizing connections via employers to push police to prioritize the case. 

However nothing has labored.

“Again when Shaam went lacking, it was winter, it was so chilly,” Fakhar mentioned, her eyes filling with tears.

“From my coronary heart, I’ve tried all the things. I’ve regarded for my brother continuous however there’s simply no signal of him.” 

Fakhar mentioned she had visited dozens of police stations, bus stations and shrines across the space over the past 5 months and left her brother’s {photograph} wherever she might:

“My thoughts and my coronary heart say that he’s secure with an NGO someplace and that he’s nonetheless alive.”

And although there isn’t a breakthrough within the case, spiritual holidays like Easter convey new hope for Shaam’s return.

“He wasn’t with us for Christmas and now Easter has additionally handed,” Fakhar mentioned. “However Easter is the day for miracles and we pray we are able to have a good time once more when Shaam comes residence.”