AC says matter under probe; DIG Operations assures protecting Parsi community.

 

LAHORE    -   A historic graveyard of the Parsi community was attacked here on Thursday, prompting Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi to order administrative measures to protect the place.

It may be a mere coincidence but the incident took place on the day when the nation was celebrating the minority day with pledges pouring in from the political leaders to protect the rights of minorities here.

The graveyard wall was damaged by the attackers in this unfortunate incident. Police said no FIR has been registered so far as the matter was still under investigation.

Spreading over 41 kanals, the Parsi cemetery is situated near Azadi Chowk opposite to Greater Iqbal Park. This cemetery was built in 1864 and is owned by a Parsi Trust.

According to the caretaker of the cemetery, local police and the assistant commissioner concerned, the incident occurred due to a longstanding dispute between the former caretaker of the cemetery and the incumbent.

Talking to The Nation, the caretaker of graveyard Ramzan said that the sons of former caretaker - Zubair, along with some young men from the neighborhood, suddenly stormed the cemetery and started abusing him. “Later, they started breaking down the wall of the cemetery and also removed the barbed wire which was installed on the wall for security reasons,” he added. Ramzan further stated that Zubair had occupied a part of the land of the graveyard and built his house on it. “He is annoyed since he was removed as caretaker due to some of his actions. After his removal, he is constantly threatening and harassing me and my children. Every other day they fight with me over lame excuses. Their aim is to force me to quit my job so that they can recapture their lost position. A month ago there was a fight here when the accomplices of Zubair tortured me and threatened to kill my wife and children,”, e explained. According to Jamshaid, managing trustee of the graveyard, there are around 15 Parsis living in Lahore while approximately 1200 are living across Pakistan. “Some people of the neighborhood have launched a systematic campaign against the Parsi community. They want us to leave this place because it is a valuable piece of land. These people know that our number in Pakistan is declining, especially in Lahore city where only 15 of us belonging to the Parsi community live. They have their eye on this precious land and want to scare us away so that they can take over this land. And for this purpose, sometimes they use the name of Islam and sometimes they accuse us falsely”, he alleged. Commenting on the teachings of Islam, he said: “I have read Islam which gives a message of peace but some opportunists want to harass the minorities present here by using the name of Islam. In Islam, the rights of minorities have been protected. Let me make one thing clear here that my community has given the responsibility of protecting this cemetery and I will continue to protect it with all honesty till the last drop of my blood,” he added.

Talking about the ex-caretaker of the graveyard, Jamshaid said Zubair along with his uncle worked as a caretaker in this cemetery for about 15 years but due to his misconduct, this responsibility was withdrawn from him. Since then this person has been harassing us continuously,” he said.

Talking about the role of authorities in the context of this incident he said, DIG Operations had assured him that life and property of the Parsi community will be protected. “The DIG has asked the SP City to coordinate with me on this issue.

The assistant commissioner said that the matter was being taken care of and the culprits will be verily punished after the full investigation of the incident.