Pak: Christians facing shortage of graveyards, forced to burry five to 10 bodies in single grave

Islamabad [Pakistan], February 16 (ANI): Christian community is forced to burry five to 10 bodies in a single grave that is already filled with skeletons and bones as there are four graveyards for more than 70,000 Christians living in Peshawar and other cities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, The News International reported citing members, The News International reported.

Augustin Jacob, a representative of the Christian community in Peshawar, said that old graves are being dug up and used for burying the dead. He said that no attention has been paid to this aspect due to the increased population rate, as per the news report. He said that there have been discussions with the government, however, the authority’s talk of giving land outside the city for graveyards could cause more issues for the Christian community.

"If the administration gives us space, it is outside of Peshawar. It is difficult for people to survive in these economic conditions and it is also difficult to bear the expenses incurred on the burial of a dead," The News International quoted Augustin Jacob as saying.

Jacob said that the Christian community needs a place in the city where people can reach easily. He said most of the Christians living in the region belong to the working class and cannot afford to purchase land for the new graveyard, as per The News International report.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa allocated Pakistani Rupees (PKR) 75 million for the construction of five cremation grounds for the Hindu community and the creation of seven graveyards for Christians in March 2019, as per the news report. Officials said that PKR 24 million has been allocated for building five cremation grounds and PKR 51 million have been set aside for purchasing land for seven Christian graveyards.

The purchase of four kanal land for cremation grounds in Peshawar and two-kanal each in Hangu, Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan and Now Shera districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been approved by the concerned department, The News International reported citing officials.

According to officials, the purchase of six kanal of land for Christian graveyard in Peshawar, five kanal each in Mardan, Kohat, Swabi and Lower Dir and four kanal each in Swat and Nowshera districts have been approved by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.

Alaica Khan, a social activist from Peshawar, said the government had allotted land for the graveyard, as per the news report. However, local Muslim community is not allowing them to construct a graveyard. Khan called on the government to take urgent action as they are forced to bury dead in old graves.

"We ask for other land and urgent actions because we are forced to bury our dead in old graves," The News International quoted Alaica Khan as saying.

Former advisor to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister on minorities Ravi Kumar said the KP Department for Religious Affairs and minorities had procured land for a Christian graveyard and a cremation ground for Hindus in 2020 in Budu Samar Bagh region in Peshawar.

Ravi Kumar said that the provincial department has asked the Peshawar Commissioner to present a report on the possible objections raised by the local population, according to The News International report. He said that local residents held meetings with the authorities and told them about their reservations. According to him, locals said that the site selected for the projects was not suitable as thegovernment had approved a residential colony in the area. (ANI)