Living on the premises of the brick kiln where she worked just southwest of Lahore, Shama Bibi was beaten to death before the enraged mob threw her body into the kiln, a relative said. The 28-year-old mother of four children was five months pregnant. Her husband, Shahzad Masih, was also beaten, but was still alive when he was thrown into the kiln with his wife’s body. He was 32.
Shama was cleaning her quarters when she found amulets of her late father-in-law, who had used them in the practice of black magic. ‘Shama burned the amulets and some other related material, assuming that this was the best way to get rid of “evil stuff” ’, a relative said. ‘She later threw the ashes on a garbage heap outside their quarters when Muhammad Irfan, a Muslim co-worker, noticed some half-burnt pieces of paper from the amulets and raised a clamour, claiming that Shahzad’s family had desecrated Quranic pages’.
Announcements emanated from village mosques calling on ‘all faithful’ to take notice of the alleged blasphemy committed by Shama. ‘At around 7am, a mob of about 3,000 to 4,000 people, most of whom were armed with batons and sharp-edged weapons, started gathering around the brick kiln’, the relative said. ‘The kiln’s manager, Muhammad Akram, asked the couple to hide in a room next to the office and told them to lock the door from inside while he put a padlock on the outside. The mob forced their way into the quarters and started searching for the couple. Unable to locate them, the crowd rushed towards the office and demanded that the manager reveal their whereabouts.’
The couple is survived by two boys and two girls, the eldest son being seven years old.