07/18/2019, 18.47
PAKISTAN
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Christian-owned lands in Punjab held by Muslim mafia for 30 years

by Shafique Khokhar

Legally granted by the provincial government, the land is worth a fortune. For this reason, the Muslims refuse to return them.

Gojra (AsiaNews) – Twenty-four Christian families from Dostpur, a village near the city of Gojra (Punjab), are demanding justice in connection with land that was legally granted to them by the provincial government in 1987, but grabbed by a local Muslim-dominated land mafia.

In 1987 the Punjab government granted seven marlas (175 square metres) per family. Three years late, Muslims went to court to oppose this. A few years ago, the court ruled in favour of the Christians, but in the meantime, those who had seized the land continued to hold and exploit it thanks to their political connections.

The land is worth a small fortune now. A marla is currently valued at 80,000 rupees (US$ 500). So, for the land mafia, there is a lot to gain by refusing to return it to its rightful owners.

In addition, some plots were sold to build of a mosque, with the knowledge that no one would dare to claim the land if religion was involved.

A few days ago, Mehak, a Christian woman, was mocked by a Muslim, Muhammad Shahid on her way to school. The young woman's family filed a complaint, angering Muslims who, out of revenge, destroyed two houses.

By turning it into a religious conflict, the Muslims involved hope the Christians would stop speaking out for their property rights. This time, however, the victims have no intention of giving in.

"The court's ruling clearly states that the land belongs to the Christians,” activist Yasir Talib told AsiaNews. But Muslims are biased and do not want Christians to use the land they are exploiting for their economic benefit.

"It is the responsibility of the assistant commissioner of Gojra to get the land from the Muslim mafia. Last week Provincial Minority Affairs Minister Ejaz Alam met the official and ordered him to achieve justice as soon as possible."

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