Published: 10:00 GMT Daylight Time - Wednesday 16 May 2012
Christians threatened while trying to save graveyard in Pakistan
Country/Region: Pakistan, South and East Asia
Christians in Pakistan have been threatened and abused while trying to save their community’s graveyard from being turned into farmland in a dubious takeover bid.
Christians in Pakistan are often taken advantage of by the powerful
Retired army colonel Farrukh Alam has claimed ownership of the 150-acre plot in Bhondary Wala village in the Narang Mandi area, which has been used by Christians as a graveyard since before the creation of Pakistan in 1947.
He claims that while the land had previously been specified as a graveyard for the Christian community, it was taken back in 1983. He says that he has “recently discovered” that the land in fact belongs to him.
Despite failing to produce any proof of this, the colonel has already built a boundary wall, reducing the graveyard to less than a third of its original size, and turned the seized land over to agricultural use.
Christians from the area who are trying to save their graveyard have been threatened and abused by Col. Alam. One of them, Rehmat Masih, took the matter to the police, but they refused to follow up the matter.
The Christians have since gained the support of Additional Home Secretary Asif Bilal, who urged the district police superintendent, “Please help these individuals. Minorities are marginalised segments of our society and need our assistance.”
The superintendent has subsequently taken action, handing an application for the registration of an FIR (First Information Report), which launches an investigation, to the local police. They have said that they will act accordingly after visiting the graveyard.
Col. Alam is the uncle of Muhammad Khurram Gulfam, a Member of the Provincial Assembly who represents the Pakistan Muslim League. Mr Gulfam says that he has asked his uncle to let the Christians use the land for their graveyard.
Christian communities in Pakistan are extremely vulnerable and are often taken advantage of by the powerful. They are marginalised and discriminated against in every aspect of their lives.