Church vandalized in Okara district, no arrest yet

    Christians of village 49/2L in Okara district have filed a blasphemy case following an attack on St. Camillus Church on Sunday, Jan 23.

    Security has been beefed up at the newly constructed church where four armed men allegedly raided the building, tied up the night watchman and threw pictures of the Holy Family, the Eucharist, Bibles, and the Ark of the Covenant on the floor. The imported ciborium and chalice were also reported missing.

    In a first information report registered on Jan 24, parishioner Younas Masih said the culprits escaped after desecrating the articles. “The culprits have hurt our religious sentiments by violating the sanctity of the church. They have tried to offend and ruin the peace in our area,” he stated.

    A case has been filed under several charges including Section 295 of the Pakistan Penal Code that criminalises the destruction or defilement of any place of worship or emblem of faith. Those convicted are subject to imprisonment for a maximum of two years.

    “The raiders covered their faces with shawls, broke open the cupboard and stole holy articles. Unfortunately, the worried parishioners kept visiting the site and now police cannot trace the culprits from fingerprints,” Father Khalil Maqsood told Kross Konnection.

    “Local labourers had been objecting to the electric bell installed in the building last month. The SHO [station house officer] has suggested filing an urgent report against anyone protesting against the bell.”

    Father Maqsood and Fr. Khalid Rasheed Aasi, director of the Catholic Church’s National Justice and Peace Commission, demanded a detailed investigation into the incident.

    Fr. Khalid Rasheed Asi condemned the vandalism and called on the local Christians to remain calm.

    “The perpetrators wanted to generate panic, but we must remain calm and continue to pray that no one can harm our union,” the priest explained. “The police have assured us of their full cooperation with the church and said they will soon arrest the perpetrators.

    In December 2021, a man was arrested for vandalizing the Narian Pora Hindu temple in Karachi.

    The man entered the temple located in the Ranchore Line area of Karachi, during the evening and damaged the statue of Hindu deity Jog Maya using a hammer.

    Earlier in October, unidentified thieves had desecrated Hanuman Devi Mata Mandir in Sindh province. They took away jewellery and cash worth thousands of rupees.

    In recent years, there has been a surge in attacks on places of worship of religious minorities in Pakistan. The country has been repeatedly slammed by the international community for not safeguarding the interest of its minorities.

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