The food point he created provides 300 free meals once or twice a day to Christians and Muslims, without discrimination. Feeding the needy and unemployed during the lockdown is an important service. For Irfan Sandhu, a member of the Lahore High Court, such incidents demean minorities and their contribution to the country.
Lahore (AsiaNews) – Raja Walter, a Christian man from Youhanabad (Lahore), is a well-known philanthropist who owns the Qadar-e-Rizaq Vip Food Point.
During the government lockdown, which stopped economic activities and caused widespread unemployment, Walter turned his centre into a canteen to provide free food to at least 300 people every day, sometimes twice a day.
During the 30 days of Ramadan he provided iftar[*] meals to many needy and unemployed Muslims. However, his charity sparked the wrath of some hatemongers.
On Tuesday, some armed policemen without a badge identifying them came to the food point and attacked him. He was beaten and tortured. Agents also smashed the loudspeaker he uses to motivate people and recite prayers before handing out food.
The attack began as Raja was handing out food. As they struck him, the agents threw away his heart medicines and mobile phone. When they tried to arrest him, women present as the scene began to cry and pray for Walter, who by then had lost consciousness. Eventually, locals rallied behind him, protesting at such treatment.
Mr. Haroon is one of the beneficiaries of the food point. He comes every day to get food for himself and his family. He is a tailor by trade but has lost his job.
"It is ridiculous to treat Mr Raja Walter like that,” he told AsiaNews. “He has never done anything wrong to anyone. He is like an angel; he supports the poor and needy. Raja is doing a great job and cannot be treated that way. The government should take action against the policemen who came to arrest him.”
Some people believe the violence was due to the lack of hygiene during the lockdown. But Raja and his staff scrupulously follow the rules, taking visitors’ temperature, telling them to sanitise their hands, etc.
The violence was likely caused by the use of speakers for praying. For Walter, "The Food Point is located in a predominantly Christian area. I raise funds to help people who are unfortunate or who have been severely affected by the coronavirus.
“Ours is humanitarian work,” he noted. There is no “discrimination based on religion or ethnicity. Loudspeakers are used only to organise people and pray before meals.”
“I am not afraid of these people, and I will continue my work to serve the poor and needy until the end of my life. I am very grateful to my people, lawyers and supporters.”
Irfan Sandhu, a member of the Lahore High Court, defended Raja Walter in a video message.
“We Pakistanis have always prayed and supported our country,” he said. “We are peaceful people and we always pray for peace. Such incidents must not stop us from doing good: we have given our blood to establish the nation.”
The authorities, he believes, should stop these violent activities "which break the hearts of minorities living in Pakistan".
“This country,” he added, “does not belong to anyone in particular. We all have worked hard for its creation and development. We must show the world that we Pakistanis are a peaceful nation that lives in brotherhood.”
[*] Evening meal with which Muslims break their daily fast during Ramadan.