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Asia

2010-08-31

ASIA/PAKISTAN - Waters diverted, Christian village flooded on purpose

Multan (Agenzia Fides) – Local NGOs have reported to Fides on the building of a dam to save some land and divert floodwater towards other areas inhabited by Christian citizens, in Punjab, near Multan, where inhabitants of the Christian village of Khokharabad suffered damages from deliberately diverted water, causing loss of human life, homes, and crops.
Khokharabad is a Christian village near Muzaffargarh, a city of 250,000 inhabitants on the outskirts of Multan, in the southern Punjab Province, central Pakistan. The area was strongly affected by the floods that, according to UN figures, have created more than 800,000 refugees. The village was completely flooded, causing severe damage to the Christian population of the place who are mostly poor people dedicated to subsistence farming.
According to information sent to Fides by some local NGOs operating in the area, the flooding in this case was "guided" by Jamshed Dasti, a local politician of Muzaffargarh and owner of parcels of land near the village. He has seen to the construction of dams and barriers to divert the flow of water to the village and thus save his own possessions.
The inhabitants of Khokharabad were not even notified and had no time to escape: the entire village was wiped out. At least 15 are dead and 377 Christians left homeless.
Taj Masih, one of the leaders of the village, said: "It is an inhumane act. Our village was flooded on purpose. Dasti, just to save his own land preferred to leave 377 people without home or harvest, our only source of livelihood. Now we have nothing."
Dasti has denied any responsibility in the incident, saying that the decision to raise barriers was made by the Department of Agriculture in the District. Department officials, in turn, say they have received orders to do so. The Governor of the District denies having given such orders. Everyone is quick to find a scapegoat, but the fact remains: it has taken place at the expense of Christian citizens. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 08/31/2010)

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