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In Punjab , Muslims Arrested For Destroying a Church

ICC Note:

Four men arrested for attacking a church, but the church will not be rebuilt until all the attackers are behind bars.

by Qaiser Felix

AsiaNews (09/06/06) – Sharaqpur police arrested four men charged with attacking a Protestant church and beating Christian women and children in Mominpura Thaiki village, Joseph Francis, coordinator of the Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), told AsiaNews.

The incident in question took place last August 12 when at least 30 armed Muslim men from another village threw hand grenades against an Apostolic Church causing its the roof and walls to collapse. They set ablaze two adjacent houses, desecrated holy books, took valuables from the church, and dragged away Bashir Masih, a local man who tried to stop them, as well as 25 heads of cattle heads.

Mominpura Thaiki is home to 65 Christian and 10 Muslim families. Village Muslims took out arms to defend their Christian neighbours and forced the attackers to flee.

Francis said the police detained the four men—Yaqoob Meher, Manzoor, Arshid and Punoo who named their 16 fellow attackers.

“Bashir Masih was found and 10 animals were recovered,” he said, “and the police are still in the village to protect but we are not going to rebuild the church until those who destroyed it are behind bars.”

The village had a similar attack on August 7 but on that occasion the police failed to move in.

The cause for the violence is that the village land is coveted by a rich local Muslim landowner, Mehr Yaqoob. On previous occasions, he tried to get the land by forging sales documents but locals were able to stop by going to court.

“We sent a letter to the Chief Minister of Punjab on August 24 requesting clear title to the land for those who live and work on it since 1988 to avoid further disputes,” Francis added.