Sialkot: A dispute has arisen regarding the burial place of a descendant of a local saint. The deceased’s family asserts their right to bury him in the courtyard of the saint’s shrine, while a group of locals contests this claim. Allegations have been made that the police are taking sides in this matter.
According to the relatives of Syed Javed Iqbal Gillani, they are the descendants of local saint Syed Abbas Ali Shah Gillani. They explain that their family arrived in the village of Merajkay in Pasrur Tehsil of Sialkot over 140 years ago in 1885. Since the passing of the saint, their family has been responsible for the upkeep of his shrine since 1931. They note that during that time, the village was officially known as ‘Maharajkay’ due to its predominantly Hindu population. The village was later renamed after Partition.
Recently, Javed Iqbal, the great-grandson of Gillani, who used to reside in Daska, passed away. In accordance with his will, his family brought his body to the shrine for burial. However, a mob gathered and obstructed them, allegedly spreading religious animosity against the family through false accusations.
The family claims that the group, led by Ashfaq Lal Din, his brother Rizwan, and his associate Ahmed Omer, along with a few others, opposed them.
When the family approached the police for assistance, they allege that the police initially tried to ignore the situation, citing the need to maintain law and order. Only after the family persisted with their complaint did the police file a one-sided and misleading case, further complicating matters.
“We have been unsuccessful in obtaining justice from the local authorities, who refused to take action against the wrongdoers, claiming it would disrupt law and order,” lamented Waqar Gillani, the son of Syed Javed Iqbal Gillani.
The family asserted that they possessed the necessary documents to prove their ownership of the shrine and that they were the rightful custodians. They claimed that the deceased had been the legal custodian for the past 23 years and that no one had challenged his claim during his lifetime. Additionally, they stated that they had evidence of the mob’s actions, but the police were hesitant to take action.
According to them, the mob’s actions were a clear violation of the National Action Plan (NAP) implemented to combat terrorism and extremism.
In response to the situation, one family member questioned, “If the district administration refuses to address religious hatred and fabricated sectarianism driven by hidden motives, then who should we turn to for justice?”
Furthermore, they alleged that due to the police and local administration’s inaction, they continued to face harassment from those trying to prevent them from burying their deceased family member.
The family appealed to senior civil, military, and judicial officers, as well as the provincial government, to take notice of the matter, ensure justice, and actively work towards countering religious extremism in society.
They expressed hope that the country’s top authorities would assist them in fulfilling the state’s commitment to combating terrorism and extremism, promoting peace and tolerance.
Meanwhile, the district police dismissed the incident as a mere dispute over control of the shrine.
“The matter is currently being reviewed by the district intelligence committee (DIC), and all relevant departments have submitted reports to the home department,” stated Sialkot District Police Officer Hassan Iqbal. He also mentioned that the complainant could refer to the revenue warrants, as the matter involved the district land revenue office.
When asked about the sectarian aspect mentioned in the complaint, DPO Iqbal informed that the issue had been forwarded to the district intelligence committee for appropriate action.