Monday, July 9, 2012
Police poised to arrest local church pastor on ‘false’ charges
Phone call saves local church pastor from landing in the lockup
By Shamim Masih
Special to ASSIST News Service
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- It was late evening, when the editor of the “Minority Times” Islamabad called me and requested me to join him quickly at Fatima Church, sector F-8/4, Islamabad, Pakistan.
When I reached there and enquired of the issue, I was told that local church clergyman, Father Rehmat Hakim Michael was about to march to the nearest police station in protest because of what he considered to be false charged he had heard where about to be launched against him.
According to information I received, Fr. Michael had been informed by an official of the Margalla Police Station that police were going to register a First Information Report (FIR) against him on charges of “kidnapping Afghan refugees” and then “killing them on their refusal to convert to Christianity.”
He was given this news by a mysterious phone caller who avoided to disclose his name, although Fr. Michael suspected that he was an official person.
The call, I was told, sent shivers down the spine of the poor priest who could never have imagined of kidnapping people for the purpose of conversion, let alone killing them in a brutal manner.
The nervous priest made frantic calls to friends and community leaders to rescue him from landing in the lockup.
When he and some friends arrived at the police station, they were told that resident of sector I-9 had filed an application against him.
The man had claimed in his application his wife, an Afghan refugee, along with other members of her family, were kidnapped in 2001 by Fr. Rehmat Hakim Michael and his “gang” and, on refusal to become Christians, they were shifted to some unknown place and were most probably killed.
The applicant had sought police help to trace them and register an FIR against Fr. Michael and another person, and investigate them in this regard.
Ironically, the priest was transferred to Lady Fatima Church in 2007, while the kidnapping incident was reported in the application to have taken place during 2001, when he was serving in Gujarat.
Fr. Michael said that he had never met or seen or heard about the persons that were mentioned in the application.
However he said he was ready to face investigation by any agency in order to reach the truth. He said that he was being trapped for some ulterior motives of the distances between the Muslims and the Christians of the city.
“The applicant will never succeed in defaming the church and the Christian community,” he added.
The story behind this affair is that a strong Afghani family in sector G-8 has occupied two church properties since 1999 and, on the demand to vacate them by the church administration, they were propagating this patently untrue story.
Father Rehmat has now requested to the Supreme Court and human right commission to interfere in the matter to solve the issue. He also has protested against what he described as “these fake applications” and demanded the authority to take quick action.
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