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SAHIWAL: Although the situation in a village here remained calm, but there were a lot of meetings and conversations throughout Monday among church administration, villagers, police, revenue officials and the local district administration.

These conversations took place in the backdrop of a clash on Sunday in village 77/4-R, Noor Shah, between Christians and other villagers over 15-marla piece of state land adjacent to a church associated with Pakistan Gospel Assemblies (PGA) during Sunday service. Three Christians, including a woman, were injured after both sides pelted each other with stones and bricks.

On Monday, Pakistan Gospel Assemblies Founder and Chairman Bishop Dr William Johnson, District Police Officer (DPO) Dr Atif Ikram and MPA Mary Gill visited the village and inspected the disputed land. They also met the injured people, including former union council councillor George Masih, Nasreen Bibi and Waseem.

MPA Mary also met Dr Ikram in his office and sought a peaceful settlement of the issue.

Talking to the media, she ruled out Sunday’s incident as communal or religious and said she hoped villagers and the Christian community would solve the issue amicably.

Noor Shah Station House Officer Asif Wattoo said the police had not yet received a medical examination report from the rural health centre where the injured were being treated. Officials from the revenue department on Monday inspected the 15-marla plot and took its measurements, he added.

DPO Dr Ikram told Dawn that the police called aggrieved parties, including Rao Tufail and Reverend Cecil Danial, and checked all documents possessed by the two parties claiming ownership of the 20-marla plot. He confirmed it belonged to the provincial government as ‘village pasture land’. He said that on Tuesday revenue officials would give their judgment on the ownership of the land based on which the police would decide the matter.

Saddar Deputy Superintendent of Police Mahar Waseem said both parties had agreed not to disturb peace until authenticity of the documents was confirmed by revenue officials.

Reverend Danial said a four-member committee comprising village elders had been formed to tackle the land dispute.

Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2018