September 5, 2023
Reverend Father Eleazar Sidhu, I’ll ôíalso known as ‘Vicky’, a Christian priest serving at Myong-Sang Naserth church in Jaranwala tehsil, Faisalabad, was shot and injured by an unidentified assailant on Sunday night.
The First Information Report (FIR) of the incident was filed under Sections 324 (attempted murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code in police station Saddar, Faisalabad.
According to the FIR, Father Sidhu was leading prayers at the church on August 28th when someone defaced the outer wall of the church with objectionable religious slogans.
Following the vandalism of the Church wall, Father Sidhu shared a video on social media in which he is standing outside the church alongside a DSP of Punjab police.
In the video, Sidhu said that the police are here to paint over the words written on the wall not to ‘remove’ them. Sidhu further clarified in the video that the Church management is not involved in this process and the police is covering the words on its own.
The police then whitewashed the slogans from the Church wall.
In the same video, Pastor Sidhu offered peace negotiations with those involved in the defacing of church walls.
“This is not the right way to convince us to be a part of Islam, sit with us, talk with us calmly and we will listen to you,” said Pastor Sidhu in the video shared on social media.
Pastor Sidhu repeated several times in the video that he does not condemn the words ‘Labaik ya Rasool Allah’ written on the wall of the church but he is concerned about the fear amongst the Christian community in Pakistan.
However, the situation escalated when Father Sidhu dropped his son off at school a few days later. There, he was reportedly threatened by two bearded individuals who told him,
“As our written slogans have been deleted from the wall of the church, soon you will also be deleted.”
On Sunday morning when Pastor Sidhu was on his way back home after prayers at the church, he was met with one of the same men who had warned him a few days earlier.
The bearded man asked Sidhu to recite the ‘Kalima’ to which Sidhu began to recite Biblical verses and before he could finish, the bearded man shot him.
Chairman of Minority Alliance Pakistan, Akmal Bhatti told Voicepk.net that we suspect the extremist religious party Tehreek e Labaik Pakistan (TLP) to be behind all this.
“He said ‘Labaik Ya Rasool Allah’ and shot me,” said Pastor Sidhu in a video that was recorded in the ambulance right after the attack on him.
Bhatti said, “Government should ban TLP for the hate crimes they are committing against minorities, especially in Faisalabad and its peripheral areas”.
He further said that the government should formulate strong policies to curb the violence against minorities to protect the diversity in the nation.
“Currently the hatred against minorities is stronger than it was in the extremist regime of Zia-ul-Haq”,
said Chairman Map Akmal Bhatti.
He was then admitted to Faisalabad DHQ Hospital but was discharged on Monday after receiving medical care.