WASA, minority members head for showdown: Land grab near lake

Khadijah Shah

Rawalpindi, Pakistan: The stage is set for a showdown between the Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) and some members of a religious minority on Sunday over the illegal occupation of a piece of land near Rawal Lake.

WASA has long been criticizing the head of an international NGO – Peace Worldwide – for allegedly encroaching 150 kanals close to a filtration plant on the pretext of building a church without the
approval of the CDA or any other government department.

Some 500 WASA employees have been asked to prevent the Christian community members from gathering on the site for prayers on Sunday, officials said on condition of anonymity.

The civic agency has also sent a letter to the United Nations, asking it to take notice of the head of its member NGO, claiming he was illegally occupying public land and inciting the minority members
against government servants in the name of religion.

The officials told ROD that WASA had decided to confront the Christian community members when they would assemble near Rawal Lake. On the other hand, Peace WorldWide chief Hector Aleem vowed to put up a fight against any hurdles created by the government departments.

“Why the government did not punish people who desecrated the Holy Bible and Cross during a crackdown by the CDA staff on our members at Rawal Lake?” “We want the issue to be settled peacefully, otherwise we would apprise the international community of the issue,” he warned.

He said the occupation of land by the minority members was a reaction to the cold response shown by the police and the government towards the desecration that took place on August 11.

“The CDA’s anti-enforcement squad injured a number of our community and I talked to top police officials in Islamabad but to no avail. The government should punish and sentence those responsible for tearing up copies of the Holy Bible,” Mr Aleem said.

He said on Sunday when the Christians would gather at Rawal Lake, the employees of WASA should not disturb them, otherwise they would retaliate with the same force.

WASA Managing Director Lt-Col (retired) Islamul Haq said the agency had the right to protect its land. However, he added that his department did not want to use force. He said the Punjab government
would soon take notice of the illegal occupation.

It is to be mentioned here that some members of the Christian community claim that there was a church near Rawal Lake some 30 years ago but it was demolished by the CDA. Now they have vowed to
reconstruct it on the same site.

But, WASA says that how can a church be constructed at a place where the extension to the Rawal Lake Filtration Plant would be carried out on the orders of the Punjab government.

Ferhan Mazher, Chairman of Rays of Development Organization, said that Government specially WASA should be very careful and should learn to respect the Holy Places of worship like Churches or Mosques. Mazher added that Pakistan is already facing the consequences of mishandling a mosque in Islamabad by law enforcement agencies. WASA and CDA should provide an alternative site
for holy church for Christians, and, instead of using force they should initiate dialogue with the Christian community

Source:
Ferhan Mazher
Chairman (Rays of Development Organization, Sargodha, Pakistan)

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4 Comments

  1. mehwish aleem

     /  February 2, 2009

    Christian human rights activist booked under Pakistan blasphemy laws

    By Dan Wooding
    Founder of ASSIST Ministries
    ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (ANS) — Pakistani police have arrested a Christian human rights activist after a member of militant Islamic organization accused him of sending a blasphemous text message from his cell phone.

    Hector Aleem in the police station with chains along with his wife and daughter Misba

    Hector Aleem, 55, the director of a non-governmental organization, Peace Worldwide, is said to have raised a voice for the local Christians, who were locked in a land dispute with Capital Development Authority (CDA). Demolition of a church built at the controversial property of Park Road Rawal Town added to the ongoing tension.

    Kausur Hector, wife of the fresh blasphemy accused told the Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) that elements unhappy with Hector’s intervention in the church property case have “trapped him” in a false blasphemy case.

    Police raided Hector’s house situated in sector G-11/2 of Islamabad on January 22, 2009 at 1:30 am after a member of hard-line Islamic organization called Tehrik-e-Sunat accused him of committing blasphemy.

    Kausur alleged that the officials of the Shalamar Police Station manhandled Hector and other family members, adding that they took her husband to the police station without even letting him to wear a sweater. She alleged that the police ransacked their house and took along with them valuables besides taking away cash worth Pakistani Rupees 50,000 ($632.4311 USD).

    She went on to tell the CLAAS fact-finding team that she was shocked to find out next morning on Jan. 23 that her husband was the only prisoner without a blanket.

    During better times: Hector Aleem Addressing Inter Faith Harmony event in Rawalpindi

    It is alleged that the Police did not give Hector a blanket despite repeated requests of Kausur and her daughters. The police gave warm clothes and blanket to Hector only after Kausur took up the matter with an officer in the Ministry of Human Rights.

    In a bid to seek legal Aid for Hector, Kausur contacted the National Director of Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), Mr. Joseph Francis, who came to visit Hector Aleem’s family to glean facts about the case.

    On January 23, 2009, a CLAAS team visited Mr. Khush Dil Khan, an officer in the Ministry of Human Rights along with the family of Mr. Hector Aleem. Khan told visitors that he had already taken action against the police, who he said had raided Hector’s house illegally. He held out an assurance to Mr. Francis that he would do all he could to help Hector get out of trouble.

    One of CLAAS lawyers, Mr. Malik Asif Taufeeq, will defend Hector Aleem. Headed by Mr. Joseph Francis, the CLAAS fact-finding team visited Hector Aleem on January 23.

    “I have been falsely implicated in a blasphemy case. I am a human rights activist. How could I hurt feelings of Muslim brothers?. I never used SMS for any kind of purpose,” Hector Aleem told the CLAAS fact-finding team.

    Hector Aleem also criticized the police for not providing him with basic needs. He alleged that the police tortured him physically and mentally and would not allow him to see his family.

    During its meeting with the investigation officer, the CLAAS team asked why Aleem was arrested when he was not named in the Police First Information Report. The investigation officer told CLAAS he had made the arrest under intense pressure. Believing Hector to be innocent, the police officer expressed hope that Hector would be acquitted on Jan. 26.

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    Reply
  2. mehwish aleem

     /  February 2, 2009

    ATTENTION PLEASE
    It is to inform that Hector Aleem country director Peace Worldwide has been arrested by police in midnight on 21st of January 2009. Police raided the house in midnight without any lady police and beat him and his family. They took some costly things also and broke the door. They didn’t inform them that why are they doing this. The family didn’t know why he has been arrested. His family came to know that he has a blasphemy act 295c after 24 hrs. According to the police Mr. Hector has said some bad comments about Prophet Muhammad PBUH which he didn’t. When the family insisted for the FIR (first information report), nobody gave them the FIR. Nobody let them visit him. Then after 24 Hrs. they let them see Hector but they didn’t let them talk to him. They beat him brutally hit him on all joints by stick didn’t give him anything to eat. Hector Aleem is working for human rights since 1996. He is an active human rights activist. He works for Christian and Muslim without any discrimination.
    Actually Hector is being trapped in response of his work. In august 2008 a church was destroyed by CDA (capital development authority) in Islamabad shehzad town and Hector worked a lot for it. All legal documents are available. Than Hector became very active in that case which caused so much trouble for him and FIRs were being lodged on daily basis. Than WASA (water and sanitation agency) came into the case claimed that the land belongs to WASA and they will destroy the church because it is built on the filtration line. The Christian community became aggressive and they didn’t let them destroy the church. Hector Aleem supported them by taking this matter to the Human Rights Ministry of Pakistan. Then WASA lodged many FIRs against him with different complainants but as he was innocent he was getting free from all cases and now they trapped him in blasphemy case which is very dangerous and if anybody is involved in this case he gets death punishment. So they made this serious case that he cannot get out. Mr. Hector has been given a peace award by prime minister of Pakistan which is on record. And on 22nd of December 2008 he was invited by President Asif Ali Zardari on a Christmas gathering in which other important and famous personalities were also invited. So it is very clear that he is very active in peaceful activities that government also realizes his work and appreciated his work.
    Now nobody knows that where is he and what are they doing to him. Is he being tortured? I want all of you to help him and to pressurize the government to release him because person under the blasphemy offence can be killed by anyone, police or any extremist or he can be killed during his visit to the court. They keep that person separate and do everything which is against the human rights. I also want you to do something for his safety for his life is in danger. And as he is an innocent he must get free immediately.
    HISTORY:
    Peace worldwide was established in 1996. It is a Christian organization working for human rights since 1996 without any discrimination but as a human rights activist Mr. Hector has faced many problems. His residence was looted in Karachi he then left Karachi with his family and shifted to Islamabad here he again started his work and established school for in which most of the students were Muslims. Then the Islamists attacked him in school and tried to kill him. Then he was again attacked by Muslim leaders they wanted to involve him in 295 BC. He also received a threat letter from an unknown person in which he wrote that Hector is working for America and he is an American agent and they will kill him and make his wife and daughters Muslim. Then on 3rd of august 2004 a false case registered against Mr. Hector for which he spent three months in prison and during this period the is fundamentalists closed his school permanently and destroyed his office. Mr. Hector started his work once again. But again the fundamentalists tried to trap him because he was handling the church destroying case. Now they trapped in blasphemy case because it is impossible to come out of jail in blasphemy offence. I want all of you to pressurize the government because the government is now not giving any response they are now saying that the blasphemy offence has finished and now other cases have opened.
    • Why other cases have opened? So that he cannot come out?
    • Why is being tortured without any offence?
    • The mullahs are not letting him out. And now the government is in pressure of the mullahs.
    • If the government is in pressure of mullahs then how Hector can be saved? They could kill him during the investigation in lockup.
    • Why other FIRs are lodging against him while he in police custody?
    • Are we living in the civilized world?
    • Are Christian leaders safe in Pakistan?
    • If Christian leaders are not safe then how can the public be safe?
    • Why national, international human rights organizations and Christian organizations silent?
    Hector has served poor and oppressed people of Pakistan during his work. I want all of you to pray for him. And pressurize the government to release him and assure the safety of his and his family’s life.

    Thanking you
    Mehwish Aleem

    Reply
  1. False Stories against Hector Aleem | Stop the Persecution of Christians
  2. False Stories against Hector Aleem | Hector Aleem

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