Sewer death

In Lahore, Pakistan, it has been reported that five Christian sanitation workers have tragically lost their lives because of the inhalation of toxic gases.

This regrettable event emphasizes the dire situations in which they must work without safety equipment.

Irfan Masih, Ratan Masih, and Babar Masih succumbed on Wednesday (June 12) to poisonous gases while cleaning a sewer disposal well in the Satellite Town area of Bhalwal in Sargodha District, Punjab Province.

A fourth Christian worker, Naeem Masih, was in critical condition at Sargodha District Headquarters Hospital.

In Sindh Province, Christians Yunus Hidayat and Yunus Masih and a Hindu, Badal Gujrati, died on Tuesday (June 11) after they inhaled toxic gases.

The tragedy in Punjab Province struck when a supervisor forced the workers to enter a well without proper safety equipment. Families of the deceased workers later staged a protest by placing the workers’ bodies in front of the Bhalwal municipal office.

The protesters demanded that Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz Sharif order an inquiry and take action against those responsible for the deaths. They also demanded the government provide safety equipment to sewer workers, lamenting that dozens have died because of toxic gases with no action taken to address the dangers.

“Our brothers continue to die in maintenance holes. But their deaths have failed to move the government,” said Sikandar Farman, a Christian who was formerly a member of the Bhalwal Municipal Committee. “How many more lives will it take for the authorities to understand the plight of these workers?”

Punjab Minister for Minority Affairs Ramesh Singh Arora said the government regretted the deaths of the workers and would ensure the provision of safety equipment.

“This is a regrettable incident, and Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz Sharif has announced a compensation of 3 million Pakistani rupees [US$10,765] for the victims,” Arora told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News. “She has also sought a report on the incident from the authorities concerned.”

He added that the government directed doctors to ensure the best possible medical treatment for Naeem Masih and wished him an early recovery.

Deaths in Sindh Province

A day before the deaths in Bhalwal, two Christians and a Hindu died of asphyxia while cleaning a clogged maintenance hole in Tando Muhammad Khan town in Hyderabad, Sindh Province.

Christians Yunus Hidayat and Yunus Masih and a Hindu, Badal Gujrati, were cleaning a gutter near a mosque when they inhaled toxic gases and died.

Masih departed, leaving his spouse and five offspring, whereas Hidayat tied the knot but lived in seclusion. According to sources, Gujrati leaves behind his wife and an 18-month-old son.

The deaths triggered angry protests by relatives, who staged a sit-in that blocked the Tando Mohammad Khan-Badin road for four hours, severely disrupting traffic. Seven protesters, including three women, fainted because of the scorching heat during the blockade.

Tando Muhammad Khan Municipal Committee Chairman Syed Shahnawaz Shah told protesters the government would provide compensation of 300,000 rupees (US$1,077) for each deceased worker and promised jobs for their heirs. He promised further compensation from the Sindh government, after which the protesters dispersed.

Shah said at a later press conference that the formation of a seven-member committee to investigate the deaths.

Marginalized Christians in Muslim-majority Pakistan often work the lowest-paid, dirtiest, and most dangerous jobs without proper protective equipment. Rights activists say that despite the government’s repeated assurances, sewer workers’ working conditions have not improved.

“Such incidents involving sanitary workers are not new; they have been happening for years,” said Sunil Gulzar, a Christian working for the rights of sanitation workers.

A significant number of sewer workers have faced fatalities, serious injuries, and health problems because of the lack of safety equipment provided to them.

Gulzar told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News that sanitation workers were one of the most marginalized segments of Pakistani society.

“We have been making efforts for years to persuade the government to provide special protection gear to these workers, but all we get is assurances,” he said. “It seems as if the lives of these workers do not matter to the state.”

Christian sanitation workers Shan and Asif Masih died from toxic gases on March 17 in Faisalabad.

Pakistan maintained its seventh position on Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List, reaffirming it as one of the most challenging places for Christians, similar to the previous year.

Source link

By Global Media Express

The Global Media Express mission is clear: to use the power of media and technology to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the world.