By Waleed Khan
The Christian community of Rahim Yar Khan staged a protest outside the DC Office against the illegal occupation of 40 years old church.
A large number of people including women protested against the alleged illegal occupation of Protestant Orthodox Church (ARP Liaquatpur) by an influential local. The protestors also raised slogans against the local administration.
In recent days, an influential local associated with the ruling party Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) has allegedly occupied the Church and closed it by locking the main gate.
Local Christian community accused Chairman Municipal Committee Chaudhry Rashid Rafique of plotting this illegal occupation.
The Church is located in the center of the city in tehsil Liaquatpur of Rahim Yar Khan. According to the Church administration, the facility is spread over 5 canal land which has been sold at a throwaway price.
According to the local reports, the church land has been transferred for mere Rs.15.15 millions when it’s actual market value is much higher.
Church administration added that few people from Sahiwal posing themselves as Fathers had attempted to make Church controversial in 2012. After this incident, Christian community had already filed a petition in the local court for the protection of Church.
Emanuel Amomi, a member District Minority Advisory Council told PakVoices that the same group from Sahiwal had been involved in the selling of a Church’s land in Ferozpur, Rahim Yar Khan by forging documents a few years ago.
On August 13th, 2012, It was decided by the local Christian community mutually that Church should remain open for service until the court verdict is issued.
However, in clear violation of understanding, the Church has been shut down.
On the other hand, PML-N’s Rafique has got the land transferred to his brother & his own name after striking an under the table deal with the Sahiwal group.
Since the story surfaced, the local Christian community has been protesting against the illegal occupation church in DC Chowk. Yonus Masih, a protestor, while talking to PakVoices appealed to the Chief Minister Punjab to nullify the agreement and give the Church back to the community so they can do their services.
Emanuel Amomi said that it is the responsibility of local government to protect religious places. “Government must act immediately against those people who disguise themselves in religion to occupy the land.”
Waleed Khan is working with PakVoices as a citizen journalist from Rahim Yar Khan.
Translated by Muhammad Arsalan
Edited by Hasan Khan