Pakistani Catholic beaten to death by hospital staff

Family in mourning as Punjab chief minister orders inquiry into tragedy
Pakistani Catholic beaten to death by hospital staff

Family members of 34-year-old Suneel Saleem mourn his death. Saleem was allegedly killed by the staff of a government hospital in the Pakistani city of Lahore. (Photo by Kamran Chaudhry)

A 34-year-old Catholic father of four was allegedly beaten to death by doctors and security guards at a government hospital in the Pakistani city of Lahore during an altercation after he responded to a female doctor slapping his heavily pregnant sister.

Suneel Saleem, 34, was critically injured during the beating on March 26 and later died in Services Hospital where the incident occurred.

"About 20 security guards and 14 doctors punched and attacked my brothers and cousins with batons, chairs and belts," said Aneel Saleem, a brother of the deceased who was also attacked.

"We received internal injuries and called the police. The ribs and legs of Suneel were fractured. He fainted and later died in the same hospital," said Aneel.

A complaint registered with the police on March 27, said the nine month pregnant sister was slapped by a female doctor. Local police have registered a murder case against five doctors and a number of the hospital's security guards.

Father Qaiser Feroz, executive secretary of the Pakistani bishops' social communications commission, conducted Suneel's funeral also on March 27.

"This is a first of its kind tragedy.… People visit hospitals for treatment and doctors are supposed to save lives," sad Father Feroz.

The administrators of Services Hospital have also filed an application with the police against the Catholic family for creating a 'lawless' situation.

Local media Dawn reported that a medical superintendent said: "The fighting began when  hospital guards forced relatives of a patient to stop making a video of the ward with a mobile phone."

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has offered his sympathy to Suneel's family and ordered an inquiry into the incident.

The family joined about 300 people outside the Lahore Press Club on March 28 who were protesting over what occurred. "We want justice," cried Suneel's mother at the event.

Christian True Spirit, an NGO that aids victims of persecution, said they will offer free legal aid to the victim's family and six months of financial support. The youngest of Suneel's children is his 4-month-old daughter.

Discrimination of religious minorities by public officials is a regular phenomenon in Pakistan.

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