Lahore, May 9 (PTI) A church in Pakistan''s Punjab province was allegedly vandalised by a group of armed men over a land dispute on Saturday, police said.
The incident came at a time when the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) in its latest report has pointed out that religious minorities in Pakistan, including the Hindu and Christian communities, continued to suffer in 2019, facing forced conversions and persecution under blasphemy laws.
The minorities remained unable to enjoy the freedom of religion or belief guaranteed to them under the country’s Constitution, the HRCP had said in its annual report -- State of Human Rights 2019 -- released recently in Islamabad.
Local Christian leader Aslam Parvez Sahotra told PTI that a group of armed men led by a person named Malik Aun Abbas demolished the gate and boundary wall of the church in Kalashah Kaku, some 40 km from Lahore, over a land dispute.
Following the incident, community leaders lodged a police complaint.
Ferozwala Station House Office (SHO) Aamir Mahmood told PTI that police reached the spot following the complaint and recorded the statements of the local Christians.
An FIR will be registered and raids will be conducted at the whereabouts of the culprits, he said.
Sahotra, who is also the chairman of the Massiha Milat Party -- a local political outfit for safeguarding Christians'' rights, said, "Abbas and his armed men stormed into the church on Saturday morning and asked the devotees present there to vacate the land, claiming that it belongs to them."
"They demolished the main gate and the boundary wall of the church. The Cross was also desecrated," he said, adding that Abbas claimed that he has bought the land and Christians cannot either live there nor have a church on it.
Christians constitute around 2 per cent of the population in Muslim-dominated Pakistan. Karachi, Lahore and Faisalabad have a large Christian population. There are many Christian villages in the Punjab heartland, while there is also a sizable population in the deeply conservative north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, particularly in Peshawar city. PTI MZ SCY SCY
Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI