Waseem Khokar & Pastor Yousaf Ghouri


Christian martyrs of Essa Nagri remembered

Once Napoleon Bonaparte said that it is the cause, not the death that makes the martyr.
An event was held in memory of the fallen heroes of the Christian community belonging to the Essa Nagri (City of Jesus), a Christian-dominated vicinity in Karachi. 

The ceremony to pay tribute to the martyrs of the community was held at Awami Church under the direction of the Founder and Chairman of the Minority Peoples Alliance Pakistan, Yaqoob Sharif Gill, on Monday, June 5, 2023.

On this day Christians pay tributes to the brave sons who gave their lives for the greater cause of their people, particularly to protect women and future generations. This is also an occasion to relive the sacrifices made by the martyrs for the values and principles which they dearly cherished. The day is marked to recall the events of June 1975. 

The day is dedicated to the three great souls of Khursheed Masih, Bashir Masih, and Gulzar Masih who gave their lives to uphold the honour and freedom for the people of Essa Nagri. 

Recalling the tragic incident of June 4, 1975, the speakers told that young Muslim men belonging to nearby localities started harassing Christian girls and women of Essa Nagri. Acting upon the physical and sexual harassment of Christian girls and women, a local elderly shopkeeper, Inayat Masih, could not tolerate the immoral activities of the Muslims and warned them against such actions, giving rise to a conflict in the area. The locals informed the police but no action was taken with regard to the complaint registered by the Christian community.     

Owing to failure of the police to provide protection to the Christian locals, particularly women of the Essa Nagri, the Muslim men not only harassed the women but opened fire on the Christian community who tried to stop them. As a result, on 4 June 1975 two brave young Christian men, Khursheed Masih son of Heera Masih, and Bashir Masih son of Dhonda Masih, were shot dead and another, Gulzar Masih son of Inayat Masih, sustained severe injuries due to the unprovoked firing from the members of Muslim community belonging to Pashtun and Baloch tribes. 

The police did not arrest the killers. The lawyer also looked after his personal interest and did not pursue the case. The case and tragic incident was a slap on the face of the state and the champions of human rights who could not provide justice to the Christian community. 
The word ‘martyr’ itself evokes a sense of glory and how a person can heartily take up death for a pious cause and greater good of the community.

This day reminds people of the great sacrifice of Christian men for their sisters and brothers. The locality of Essa Nagri is still facing numerous issues that need to be addressed with dedication. Since then, the Christian community is still looking for a true and brave leadership to guide them and help them to resolve their long-pending issues. Although there are a large number of Christians who laid their lives on the line for Pakistan, the three martyrs of 1975 will always be remembered for saving their fellow community of Essa Nagri. 

Today, we need to reinforce the same zealous spirit of unity for the greater cause of the protection of Christian community. We should stand together as a one nation against the adversaries.   

It is worth mentioning here that Essa Nagri is a neighborhood located in the Karachi East district of Karachi, Pakistan. The colony started in 1962 when 85 Christian families migrated from Punjab to Pakistan's economic hub in search of jobs. There is a large Christian population in this neighborhood of Karachi. The original Essa Nagri is mainly a Christian area. The biggest churches are the Roman Catholic Church, United Presbyterian Church, Seventh Day Adventist Church, and the Philadelphia Pentecostal Church. Essa Nagri is situated along Sir Shah Suleiman Road in Gulshan Town. There are several ethnic groups in Gulshan Town including Muhajirs, Sindhis, Punjabis, Kashmiris, Seraikis, Pakhtuns, Balochis, Memons, etc. 10% of the population is Muslim and 90% is Christian. The locality has a Catholic church and missionary schools in this area.