Christian community demands new cemeteries
By Anjum Gill
LAHORE: Leaders of the Christian community are demanding new Christian cemeteries, as the existing cemeteries are almost full. “Currently we digging graves out of existing unmarked or unclaimed ones,” said Rev Shahid Meraj, vicar of the Cathedral Church, The Mall. “We will be unable to do this after another two years. We need a new graveyard,” he said.
The following Christian cemeteries: Budhu Da Awa, Gora Qabristan Ravi Road, Gora Qabristan Jail Road, Youhanabad Cemetery, Behar Colony Cemetery and Samanabad Cemetery are almost full. The Gora Qabristan at Infantry Road and Dharampura side still have some space left. “At present we are narrowing the walking paths in cemeteries to create more space,” said the vicar.
Before partition, only the British were buried at the Jail Road Cemetery. The majority of the locals were buried at Budhu Daa Awa. There was also a Christian cemetery at the back of Formans Christian College’s hostel, Tipu Hall (Ewing Hall) at Nila Gumbad, which was filled up shortly after partition.
At the Ravi Road Christian Cemetery and Budhu Da Awa cemeteries, people have encroached on land to build shops and residential units.
This shortage has partly been caused by the rural-to-urban migration. With increasing number of Christians settling in the city, the need for a new cemetery is becoming more urgent.
Lahore Bishop Rt Rev Alexander John Malik and National Council of Churches in Pakistan executive secretary Victor Azraiah have asked the government to provide land for Christian cemeteries.
Azariah said, “We had been requesting the government and will request the Punjab chief minister again to allocate a few acres of land so that the problem for burial be addressed for the next 50 years. Since Christians are living all over Lahore, it will be appropriate to allocate land at Ferozepur Road and Multan Road.” Bishop Malik had been in negotiating with the government for a couple of years, Meraj added.