Friday, 7 October 2011

Armed group kills Christian over disputed land in Mian Channu

Lahore – Sabir Masih, a Pakistani Christian living in Mian Channu, a town in Khanewal District (Punjab), was brutally murdered Wednesday night over a land dispute. A dozen people were injured. According to sources, a local Church had bought the land to build an orphanage, but an influential local feudal lord, Muhammad Ali Durrani, wanted to claim the land.

Local residents say the land mafia is strongly back by the influential feudal lord and they tried to take the land bought by the Church. On Monday, local residents submitted an application at the local police station against Durrani and his associates, but police tried to pressure them and threatened them to withdraw their complaint.

On Wednesday, arriving by car, armed men attacked locals, murdered Sabir Masih, and injured over a dozen other residents including children. They also took over the land. Police did not register a First Information Report (FIR) about the anti-Christian attack.

The Catholic Church in Khanewal has condemned the latest incident and called for immediate action.

“We strongly condemn this murder,” Fr Ilyas John from Khanewal said. “This is not the first incident of land grabbing in the district,” he said “Influential feudals target the weak and the vulnerable.”

The local Church does not have a big congregation but bought the land to build an orphanage. However, it should have given greater consideration to the organizational capacity needed in taking such a step because “the land mafia in this region is very strong and they keep an eye on such projects as they are an easy catch,” the clergyman explained.

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