RAWALPINDI: The Rawalpindi administration failed to complete the construction of a 100-kanal graveyard for the Christian community in Rakh Dhamial, even though the work on the 900-kanal portion of the cemetery reserved for Muslim residents has already been completed.
The government allocated 100 kanal in Rakh Dhamial for the graveyard for religious minorities, while 900 kanal was allocated for a graveyard for Muslim residents. However, the Christian cemetery is still not completed.
The work on Rakh Dhamial Graveyard started in 2017 during the tenure of PML-N in Punjab. Former chief minister Shehbaz Sharif also established the ‘Sher-i-Khamoshan’ authority to improve the condition of the graveyards in the province.
In 2021, former mayor Sardar Naseem allocated Rs20 million for development work at Rakh Dhamial Graveyard; three funeral buses were also purchased.
On the other hand, the officials of the district administration said that the people were not interested in Rakh Dhamial cemetery because of the distance, since it was out of the city.
“There is no proper transport to move the dead bodies and the people who would go there to attend the funeral prayers.
However, Commissioner Liaquat Ali Chatha, during his visit to the graveyard, claimed that more funeral buses would be provided to facilitate the public. Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation Chief Officer Chaudhry Amjad and other officials were also present on this occasion.
The commissioner claimed that the Rakh Dhamial graveyard was fulfilling the burial needs of Rawalpindi city. 100 kanal in the graveyard was earmarked exclusively for the Christian community, he added.
He said that this was the “proof” that the protection of the rights of minorities was ensured in Pakistan. “Space will be allocated in the cemetery for the rest of the minorities as well. The minorities have full religious freedom in Pakistan. An atmosphere of brotherhood is established by inter-faith harmony,” the official further claimed.
He said the Rakh Dhamial graveyard had regular planning. “A regular number is allotted to each grave,” he said, asking the administration to keep a written record of the burials.
The commissioner further said that a block will be allocated in the Rakh graveyard for the cantonment area. He also reviewed the water facility in the graveyard.
‘Drive against mafia’
Separately, the commissioner ordered strict action against beggars and those who run mafias to force people into begging. According to details, a meeting was held under the chairmanship of the Rawalpindi commissioner along with RPO Rawalpindi Syed Khurram Ali. CPO Rawalpindi Khalid Mehmood Hamdani, Social Welfare Director Rana Shahid and other officials participated in the meeting. In the meeting, it was decided to launch a grand operation in Rawalpindi against the beggars.
The commissioner said that the administration and the police would jointly conduct a grand operation against beggars in the garrison city.
“Beggars mafia will be wiped out from various intersections and markets,” he claimed.
Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2023