Resting in peace will just have to wait for the Christian community in Sheikhupura district who are currently involved in a battle with a retired army official for ownership of land used as a Christian graveyard.
Christians of the Bhondary Wala village in the Narang Mandi area are trying their best to save their decades-old graveyard from being converted into agriculture land by a retired army colonel. Colonel (retd) Farrukh Alam, who also happens to be the uncle of a Pakistan Muslim League MPA, has claimed ownership of 150 acres of land in the area and has conveyed to the Christians of the area to make alternative arrangements, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The graveyard, which was set up before partition, has already been shrunk to three kanals, from an original 10, after the colonel dug a boundary around it.
Rehmat Masih, a resident of the village, told The Express Tribune that the Christian community approached the Narang Mandi police but they refused to entertain their application against the colonel.
On May 8, Rehmat approached Additional Home Secretary Asif Bilal who referred their application to Additional SP Sheikhupura Waqas Ahmed saying, “Please help these individuals. Minorities are marginalised segments of our society and need our assistance”.
In this regard, the SP summoned SHO Narang Mandi Police Station Razakar Hussain Shah on Tuesday and handed him an application for registration of the FIR. However, an FIR is yet to be registered.
Shah told The Express Tribune on Wednesday that he had received the application and would act accordingly after visiting the graveyard Wednesday night.
Counter allegation: Ahmadi conspiracy?
Col (retd) Alam told The Express Tribune that the land had been previously specified for a graveyard for the Christian community but was taken back in 1983. Presently there is no such specification, yet the graves are there, the colonel added. He further said that he came to know that the land belonged to him a few years back and not a single inch of space is specified for a graveyard for Christians.
Col (retd) Alam said he had specified a boundary for their graveyard limiting it to three kanal about two years back; while the remaining land is used for agricultural purposes.
The Christian community has made two additional graveyards by crossing their boundary, he claimed, adding that he has not demolished any grave.
He alleged that the Christian community is taking action against him at the behest of a member of the Ahmadiyya community. Without specifying any names, he said that “the Ahmadi” was against him as he never treated him like a Muslim. Meanwhile, MPA Muhammad Khurram Gulfam, the retired colonel’s nephew, told The Express Tribune that he had asked the colonel to let them use it for their graveyard but his uncle was persistent on taking hold of the land.
‘Threatened and abused’
Sohail Rehmat, son of Rehmat Masih, told The Express Tribune that Colonel Alam had threatened him and his grandfather for taking action against him.
Colonel Alam also allegedly threatened the Christians in the area further after The Express Tribune contacted him for his version and informed him about the application filed against him. In the application, Masih said that on April 24, Colonel (retd) Alam threatened and abused them when they asked him not to destroy their graveyard.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2012.
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