The Pakistan Christian Post reports that, in Chak Jhumra (Faisalabad), Muslim landowners destroyed and desecrated a Christian graveyard, using a tractor to plough over a number of tombs. Buried coffins were broken and the bones of the dead were brought to the surface. The local police refused to open an inquiry, whilst the landowners utter threats against local Christians to get them to stop legal proceedings.
The Faisalabad chapter of the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Pakistani Catholic Church has intervened in the affair. A team sent by the commission visited the desecrated graveyard and collected evidence.
However, a local Muslim has filed a claim, saying he owned the land on which the cemetery is located. The first hearing in the case is scheduled for 13 June 2011.
Fr Joseph Jamil, a Faisalabad priest, strongly condemned the anti-Christian violence. “The Church,” he said, “is closing monitoring the issue.”
“Landowners and extremists are actively involved against the Christian minority in Punjab,” he told AsiaNews. “Most attacks happen in the central part of the province.” The government, he said, should “take charge of the situation and defend the minority.”
As additional evidence of the prevailing atmosphere of violence, a story came to light involving a 29-year-old Christian woman who was abducted by a Muslim co-worker, roughed up, drugged and gang-raped.
Afshan Sabir is a factory worker and a mother of three. She was assaulted over night on 27 March in an unspecified area near Gojra. When she woke up, she sought help in a state of disorientation. She later tried to file a complaint with the local police station. However, instead of helping the woman, police officers helped the rapists cover their tracks.
On this occasion, the National Commission for Justice and Peace also intervened, providing the victim with legal counsel and following the case on her behalf.
(Jibran Khan contributed to the article)