Voice of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Monday, July 15, 2024

Shrinking Burial Space for Christians in Peshawar

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government has failed to fulfil the demand of the Christian community of Peshawar for providing them with a piece of land for the much-needed graveyard as the space for burial in already existing Gora Qabristan is rapidly shrinking with every passing day.

Earlier this month the Christian community under the leadership of Pervaiz Akhtar, President of the Christian community gathered in front of the Peshawar Press Club to demand the termination of NOC issued by Cantonment Board Peshawar for advertisement billboard to a private advertiser at Gora Qabristian.

Many people from the Christian community across Pakistan have requested the KP government to preserve the Gora Qabristan as a national heritage site and buy a piece of land for the Christian community for graveyard; however, the KP government is yet to fulfil the demand.

Gora Qabristan which was established around 1849 and many famous soldiers, missionaries and British officers were buried here but many of the burial sites have disappeared because locals were destroying the older graves to bury their dead due to the unavailability of space for burials.

According to an independent source, the population of the Christian community in Peshawar is over 50,000 and there are only two graveyards Gora Qabristan and Wazirbagh graveyard for the community which are having no further space for a dead body to be buried in.

While talking to Voice of KP, Joseph a member of the Christian community in Peshawar said that the government should take steps to preserve the Gora Qabristan as a national heritage site; adding that it was of utmost importance that tombstones of historic graves should have been handed over to the Peshawar Museum for preservation; sadly too many of them have been broken to pieces and thrown away.

He added that many of the old graves were bulldozed for new graves  and in the process the stories of the people buried here who had lived, loved and created Peshawar were also erased.

He maintained that It was a historic monument which was well preserved for decades after the independence but now our people do not care about it and indeed they are responsible for the destruction. He said that apart from the common people the government should also play its very important role in the preservation of this heritage otherwise as a nation we will soon lose this historical site.

A female from the Peshawar Christian community without mentioning her name told Voice of KP over the phone that they have the equal rights in the country to live and be buried with respect after death, but the government despite knowing the problems of minorities has yet to devise any plan for purchasing land for the graveyard for the Christian community in Peshawar.

When contacted the representative and Advisor to CM on minorities Ravi Kumar said that the KP government back in 2018 had devised a plan for buying a piece of land for the graveyard in Chamkani but the local people of the area did not allow the district administration to buy land for the graveyard for the minorities.

He concluded that the Deputy Commissioner was given the task to convince the people of the Chamkani and the matter to be resolved very soon.

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