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`Land grabbers behind Mandi Bahauddin unrest`

By Imran Gabol 2016-05-17
LAHORE: A group of land grabbers is behind the Mandi Bahauddin village religious unrest, says a local landlord.

`Some five to seven men are spreading baseless rumors against the Christian community living here for around a century, Amanullah, a Muslim, told this reporter by phone on Monday.

According to him, the grabbers first attempted to get the prime location land belonging to Christian community at a throwaway price and after failure they launched a hate campaign.

Tension reportedly surfaced in Chak-44 in mid-April when some people started spreading rumors that Imran Masih, a sanitary worker employed with Bosal Rural HealthCenter, had committed blasphemy.

Health center colleagues hailing from Chak-44 alleged that Masih had uploaded blasphemous videos on his phone and they reported the matter to village prayer leader Maulvi Imran who started instigating locals in his sermons. The situation forced Masih to leave the village.

Amanullah said some of the `miscreants` were also members of the local mosque committee who wanted to garb the land of the minority group.

He said that as the matter was reported to District Police Officer (DPO) Raja Basharat, he constituted a six-member committee comprising three leaders each from Muslim and Christian communities to sort out the matter.

He said that the DPO also framed the terms of reference of the com-mittee and both sides agreed to it.

`After the formation of the committee some of its members started inciting public over the issue` said the landlord.

He said as the situation deteriorated some 15 families left the village. Later, 10 of them returned on the assurance of police.

He said some 60 to 70 policemen had been deployed in the village to avert any untoward situation.The DPO, in his report submitted to IGP Mushtaq Sukhera, said Bosal RHC supervisor Iftikhar, computer operator Mohsin Ali and dispenser Bilal Ahmed had watched a video on Imran Masih`s phone that contained some blasphemous material.

The matter was brought into the knowledge of Chak-44 elders during Friday prayers. As the elders were discussing the issue, Ashraf, a resi-dent of the area who had converted to Islam from Christianity, had arguments with them.

The elders asked Ashraf to leave the mosque who approached Christian community and propagated that Muslims were gathering to attack them over the issue.

The DPO said police arrested Ashraf who sought forgiveness and apologized for his act.

Raja Basharat told Dawn that the situation in the area was under control and some people were involved in inciting public over the issue on social media.

He said the peace committee had assured the police and district administration that no one would take law into his hand.

Answering a query about the alleged land grabbers, he said some people were involved in leveling baseless allegations.