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Lahore’s historic Taxali Gate Cemetery in shambles due to willful ignorance by authorities

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Lahore’s historic Taxali Gate cemetery (a Christian burial ground) is in shambles owing to negligence of concerned authorities. The graveyard is in a very bad condition and the graves are desecrated and sinking into the grounds. The cemetery situated on a 170-kanal land lacks maintenance and repair, while there is no place in it for further burials.

Christian cemeteries in Pakistan

In keeping with a report by Daily Times, the oldest gravestones seem to be date back to 1800. The old graves are being razed in order to construct new ones over them. The report further stated that waist high shrubs have grown all over the cemetery. The marble over the graves dating back to 1800 and 1900 have been stolen.

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This cemetery is one of the oldest Christian cemeteries in Lahore. It is located adjacent to Taxali Gate of Lahore. This cemetery was developed after the British established their rule in Punjab, it served as primary cemetery for the British in Lahore. It is most commonly referred to as Gora Qabaristan, literally means the white graveyard. Notable personalities from the British era were buried in this cemetery. The records of this cemetery are not available, while two wall tablets at the gate house give map of the cemetery. The graves are desecrated and the plots cannot be defined exactly.

Daily Times reports that when the then Minister for Minorities of Punjab Tahir Khalil Sandhu said that this matter was taken dealt with under the Shehr-e-Khamoshan Bill which was passed by the Punjab Assembly. “This is a fundamental human right that they rest in peace after death, but the funds were given to the six MPAs from Lahore for improving the Taxali and Jail Road Cemetery along with the development of new ones. We are developing cemeteries in Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan and Gujranwala and we will also be improving the conditions of the existing ones,” Daily Times quoted him.

General Secretary of National Council of Churches in Pakistan Victor Azariah, told DT that no improvement was made in the Taxali Gate cemetery. “In my opinion, it’s an ancient graveyard and was built by the British when they took over Punjab. During the British India period, soldiers camped in the fort near the cemetery and that was the reason that a cemetery was constructed nearby.

The soldiers, army personnel and high officials of the British Raj were buried there. People don’t know the facts about this graveyard. The grave of Dr. Forman who was the pioneer of regular education system in Punjab and started a school in Rang Mahal and later founded Forman Christian College is also in the Taxali Cemetery”, he said.