Church Demolished As Gujjar Nullah Evictions Continue In Karachi

The anti-encroachment teams of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation on Tuesday demolished parts of St Joseph Church, despite resistance from civil society groups.

The Karachi Bachao Tehreek confirmed the demolition on their social media pages.

More than 300 families were associated with St Joseph Church. The KBT said an anti-encroachment squad of the Sindh government demolished the building despite protests from the Christian community.

Abira Ashfaq, a member of KBT, shared a video of the demolition on Twitter.

She further wrote, “Government of Sindh liable under Section 295 — injuring or defiling places of worship thereby insulting the religion of any class where such destruction would be considered an insult — two years in jail plus fine maximum sentence. We need the names of all your foot soldiers.”

Lawyer Mustafa Mehran said that two churches had already been demolished near Gujar Nala and St Joseph was the last one remaining for the huge Christian population.

Local officials say the drive was launched after a court order to remove encroachments near Gujjar Nullah and the Orangi nullah. UN experts say the anti-encroachment action along Gujjar Nullah could affect up to 96,000 people. More than 66,500 people have already been affected, with 4,900 houses demolished in Gujjar Nullah and 1,700 in Orangi nullah.

In June, UN human rights experts had urged Pakistan to stop evicting 100,000 people living alongside the waterways.

The drive will have a “horrid effect on the displaced population, putting many poor families out on the street in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic,” a statement by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said.