Pastor shot at in Jaranwala, claims assailants told him to convert

    A pastor was shot and injured by unidentified men on Sunday evening a week after unidentified persons inscribed Islamic slogans on the walls of his church in Jaranwala, sources said.

    Reverend Eleazar Sidhu, the pastor in-charge of the Presbyterian church in Kukranwala village in Khanuwana area of Jaranwala tehsil, Faisalabad district, said that he and his assistant were returning home after pastoral visits to church members on Sunday evening when two men stopped their motorcycle near the Khanuwana bus stop.

    “I was returning to my home in Rehmat Town with my assistant John Masih when the assailants stopped us. One of the attackers pulled out a pistol and asked me to recite the Kalima. When I refused, the man shouted Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah and opened fire, resulting in a bullet wound on the right shoulder. The assailants fled after the attack,” Rev Eleazar stated in the FIR [First Information Report] registered with the Saddar Police Station in Jaranwala.

    Eleazar said that on Aug 28, unidentified persons had inscribed Islamic slogans on the walls of his church.

    “I was conducting early morning prayers in the church when a female member informed me that there was graffiti on the walls, including a slogan associated with the hard-line religious party, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan. We immediately called the police who got the walls whitewashed in their presence. I also registered a case against the unknown vandals.

    “Three days later when I was returning home after picking up my son from school, we were stopped by some unidentified bearded men. They threatened me, saying that I would be ‘deleted from the world’ in the same manner in which I had removed the graffiti from the church walls,” he said. He added that the person who opened fire on him on Sunday was among those who had threatened him three days ago.

    READ MORE: Christians demand judicial inquiry into Jaranwala incident, claim injustices in police probe

    The pastor said that four Presbyterian churches were among the 21 churches that were attacked by Muslim mobs in Jaranwala on Aug 16, after two Christian brothers were accused of desecrating the Koran.

    Minorities Alliance Pakistan Chairman Advocate Akmal Bhatti condemned the attack on Rev Eleazar, saying it had increased fear in the Christians of Faisalabad district.

    “We thank God for saving the pastor’s life. The doctors have removed the bullet after a successful operation on Sunday night and he is out of danger now,” Bhatti told Kross Konnection.

    Bhatti said the situation in the Kukranwala Christian settlement was already tense after the vandalism on the church walls.

    “Kukranwala is a relatively new Christian settlement comprising 200-250 families. The police has deployed some personnel there for security but we demand stern action against the perpetrators behind these incidents,” he said.


    Meanwhile, Lahore High Court Justice Asim Hafeez on Monday issued notice to the Punjab government on a petition seeking the formation of a judicial commission to investigate the Jarawanla incident.

    The petition was filed by Bishop Azad Marshall, president of the Church of Pakistan, and seeks a judicial inquiry into the mob violence against Christians in Jaranwala.

    “The court has ordered the Punjab government to submit its response on Sept 11. We hope that the high court will consider our concerns regarding the investigation and will form a judicial commission to conduct a thorough and transparent probe,” Marshall told Kross Konnection.

    He said the Punjab police chief’s claims regarding a “foreign conspiracy” had raised concerns in the Christian community about the transparency of the investigations which is why a judicial oversight was necessary to reveal the facts.

    READ MORE: A timeline of attacks on religious minorities in last 12 months

    “The judicial inquiry should also ascertain the causes of such mob attacks, fix responsibility on the officials concerned and propose measures to curb these incidents.

    “The Jaranwala incident could have been prevented if appropriate steps were taken from the attacks in Shantinagar, Gojra and Joseph Colony, etc., but we have not seen any seriousness in our state apparatus to address the root cause that leads to such violence,” he said.

    Violent mobs incited by Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) attacked churches and homes of Christian residents in Jaranwala tehsil in Faisalabad district after two Christian brothers were accused of blasphemy on Aug. 16.

    Multiple churches were set on fire and homes and businesses of Christians were ransacked for hours while police were silent spectators, triggering condemnation across the world.

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