Call for Improved Safety Measures Following Deaths of Christian Sanitary Workers in Faisalabad

Faisalabad, On March 17th, two sanitary workers, Shan Mushtaq Masih and Asif Ilyas Masih, tragically lost their lives while cleaning a sewer line for a private marquee on Sargodha Road, Faisalabad. The heartbreaking event has spotlighted the dire working conditions and safety challenges faced by sanitary workers in the city.

Akmal Bhatti, Advocate High Court and Chairman of Minority Alliance Pakistan, along with his team, visited the bereaved families to offer condolences and support. He committed to assisting the families in securing compensation from the Water & Sanitation Agency (WASA) and highlighted the applicability of the Islamic “Diyat” law, which allows for financial restitution to victims or their heirs in cases of accidental harm or death.

Bhatti emphasized the alarming statistic that in Faisalabad alone, 50 sanitary workers have perished in similar circumstances, often without adequate safety gear or measures. He stressed the urgent need for ambulances and first aid facilities to be readily available during such high-risk operations, which could potentially save lives in emergency situations.

The deceased workers, Shan and Asif, both 30 and 31 years old respectively, were cousins and each had three children. They resided in Ghulam Muhammadabad, Faisalabad, and their untimely deaths have left the community in mourning.

Tahir Khalil Sindhu, the Provincial Minister for Human Rights & Parliamentary Affairs, addressing the media, assured that the families of the deceased would receive proper compensation. He acknowledged that even though the workers were hired privately, their affiliation with WASA necessitates appropriate redressal. Chief Minister Punjab Maryam Nawaz, demonstrating prompt concern, instructed Sindhu to visit the families and ensure swift action.

Furthermore, Deputy Commissioner Abdullah Nayyar Sheikh confirmed that the marquee administration had provided compensation to the families, and additional support from WASA is forthcoming. PML-N central leaders Talal Chaudhry and Irfan Mannan also visited the families, extending their sympathies and support.

This tragic incident has ignited a critical conversation about the safety and rights of sanitary workers in Pakistan. The need for systemic change and enhanced protective measures for workers in hazardous conditions has become a pressing issue, drawing attention from government authorities and human rights organizations alike.