Sarfaraz Raja is the associate pastor of the Youngsen Memorial Church in the village of Youngsenabad, Punjab. He was preparing to deliver his Good Friday sermon on 10 April when his brother phoned, reporting that police had entered their family’s house and were harassing their mother and other family members. Accompanied by the head of the village, Pastor Sarfaraz rushed to the scene, where he found six police officers in the courtyard of the family home.
Rather than receive an answer to his enquiry about the authorities’ intrusion, Pastor Sarfaraz was forced into a police vehicle and transported to the station, along with his uncle. At the police station, distillation equipment from a storeroom was photographed with the two men and with this fabricated evidence, the pastor and his uncle were charged with illegally making and selling alcohol. Then the accused men were released on bail the next day.
Sarfaraz believes that the charges stem from complaints he had made earlier about the police wrongfully protecting criminals in the community. He says that other villagers, including the village headman, Chaudhry Ranjeet Lal, will vouch for him regarding these matters. While police deny the allegations, the sub-inspector mentioned his willingness to make a deal if the complaints against the police officers in the charge are withdrawn.
A government enquiry has been ordered by the provincial Minister of Human Rights to evaluate the actions of the local police. Cases of corruption in the country’s villages are not uncommon. Pakistani Christians are frequent targets of local authorities and often must contend with false allegations.
Source: Morning Star News
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