Two Christians from Sargodha, Pakistan were reportedly sent to rescue a person trapped in a sewer but ended up dying instead.
The International Christian Concern (ICC) said the two Christians, Fisal Masih and Nadeem Masih, were ordered by their supervisor, Muhammad Farooq, on October 3 to rescue another Christian, Michael Masih, who was in a sewer. The two obeyed and went in the sewer--"a 30-foot manhole with damaged wooden stairs"--without wearing any personal protective equipment even though it was filled with toxic fumes.
"When Michael passed out from inhaling toxic gases, Muhammad Farooq ordered two Christian workers, Faisal Masih and Nadeem Masih, to rescue him. Again, PPE was denied," the Barnabas Fund said.
Accordingly, they succeeded in rescuing Michael but a strong current came and swept them away. An emergency team was then called to help the two Masihs but never came since Muslims believe that "touching a Christian would make them ritually unclean." Thus, the two Masihs were left to die. Another Christian was sent in later to recover their bodies.
On the other hand, Michael was brought to the hospital to be attended to medically due to his exposure to the toxic fumes. Reports said Michael would be facing long-term health problems as a result of the incident. Sweepers Are Superheroes reported that he is in "critical condition in a local hospital."
The company that oversees the sanitation work involved in the incident defended themselves with claims that they followed precautionary measures. But the Alabama Baptist pointed out that Michael actually came in the sewer with no oxygen tank to protect him from the fumes.
Barnabas Fund, in addition, highlighted in its report that Michael was sent to work at night on a Sunday even while on suspension from work and even though 'experiencing flu-like symptoms." Barnabas Fund disclosed that Michael was put on suspension for an unauthorized absence last September 28 wherein he was claiming a sick leave due to poor working conditions. Farooq threatened that Michael will be removed from work if he won't report that night and do as he was told to.
Farooq also ordered Nadeem to go in the sewer despite knowing that he is on a self-employment contract, which the Barnabas Fund said "technically prohibited him from entering (a) manhole" as per local laws.
As such, community leaders have already filed charges against two Sargodha officials and Farooq since their neglect have led to the death of the two Christians and endangered the life of another. While a group of Christians were reported to have held a protest outside the corporation's premises that has led to a traffic hold up that lasted for seven hours.
The ICC explained that sanitation workforce in Pakistan are made up of 80% to 90% Christians that are hired as janitors, sewer workers, and street sweepers.
"This percentage is an extreme over representation as Pakistani Christians represent less than 2% of the country's overall population," ICC said.
Sanitation positions are often given to Christians because it is regarded in Pakistan as the "lowest and filthiest" jobs. Discrimination is thus widespread against Christians from "discriminatory hiring practices" that are over represented to being forced into dangerous jobs.