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— Dawn
— Dawn

SAHIWAL: Three Christians, including a former minority councillor, were injured in a clash between the churchgoers and a group of villagers over ownership of a 15-marla plot adjacent to a church at

Chak 77/4-R, Noor Shah, during the Sunday service.

The village has two small churches. One of them is associated with the Pakistan Gospel Assemblies (PGA) and it was established recently on a five-marla plot of the state land.

George Masih, a former minority councillor, said there was a 20-marla piece of the state land and the Punjab government had initially allocated five marlas for the construction of church.

A controversy started when the church claimed that the remaining 15 marlas of the plot had also been allocated for extension of the church.

On the other hand, a villager, Rao Tufail, also claimed the ownership of the 15-marla plot. The situation got tense a couple of days back when the church started constructing a boundary wall around the plot. Harsh words were exchanged between the priest, his followers and Tufail’s men.

On Sunday, when service started in the church, Tufail along with his companions arrived and demanded demolition of the wall around the plot. Both sides began abusing each other and a scuffle started. Both the parties pelted each other with stones and bricks. Three Christians, namely George Masih, Nasreen and Waseem, were injured in the clash.

The Noor Shah police rushed to the spot, controlled the situation and sent the injured to the rural health centre for treatment. Tufail escaped from the scene.

Noor Shah SHO Asif Wattoo later held a meeting with villager elders to restore peace. He said it’s not any communal issue but a land dispute.

Dilber Jani, a local minority rights activist and secretary Sahiwal Church, said situation in the village was calm and peaceful.

The village has more than 400 houses and out of them about 40 houses belong to the Christian community.

Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2018