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Pakistan: Presbyterian church in Rawalpindi’s Gujar Khan set on fire a day after Good Friday, police blames short-circuit

Elder Javed, the church's custodian, told the reporters that although he had not mentioned it in his statement, police filed a complaint citing short circuit as the cause of the fire.

On 30th March, authorities in Gujar Khan city of the Rawalpindi district in Pakistan shared that a Presbyterian church was set on fire during the course of the night at around 3 am, only hours after Good Friday. According to reports from the area, there was a dispute between the Christian community and the owner of a local plaza on Good Friday because the Church had closed a nearby street for security.

Rawalpindi CPO Khalid Mahmood Hamdani claimed that a preliminary inquiry indicated a short circuit was the reason behind the incident and they did not discover any combustible material around. The official alleged in response to a question that they had looked into the matter and that the plaza’s owner was not linked to the fire. However, Elder Javed, the church’s custodian, told the reporters that although he had not mentioned it in his statement, police filed a complaint citing short circuit as the cause of the fire.

He added that they engaged in an altercation with one of the locals. Elder Javed charged that either that local or someone else at his behest was responsible for the arson. Later, the Christian community protested outside the church, calling on the administration of Punjab to look into the matter and reimburse damages. The demonstrators were given assurances by Assistant Commissioner Gujar Khan Murad Hussain Nekokara that the incident would be fairly investigated.

According to a church official, the proprietor of a nearby plaza demanded that the church administration take down the tents that were erected to block the road on Good Friday for security reasons. However, police and other locals stepped in and resolved the issue. Afterwards, the church remained closed for the night, but Saturday morning word of the fire reached them. When they arrived at the location, enormous flames were bursting out of the church.

The lead pastor Adeem Alfons also attested to the fact that the Gujar Khan incident stemmed from the difficulties the church is experiencing as a result of the plaza next to it undergoing construction. There is a conflict between the church and the plaza’s owner, since the former had closed the traffic for security concerns. The police and fire brigade were summoned after unknown individuals set fire to the church at approximately three in the morning.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
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