Christian web TV office shifted months after fire tragedy
KARACHI: The Christian web television, Gawahi TV, has shifted its office to the first floor of a church in Kashmir Colony months after its previous office in Akhter Colony’s C-Sector was damaged in a ‘mysterious’ fire, it emerged on Saturday.
Situated in a predominantly Christian neighbourhood of Akhtar Colony, the web TV’s office that uploads prayers and carols on its website, was found damaged and burnt after the owners and staff left the premises around 1:30am on Nov 22, 2015. Soon after leaving the office, the owner, Sarfaraz William, received a phone call from the Mehmoodabad police station informing him about the fire.
Speaking to Dawn at the time, William spoke about “receiving threats” from a religious organisation representing the mosques in the area six months prior to what he claims is an “arson attack” on his office. Reiterating his statement, William said, “The representatives of the mosques had filed a written complaint at the Mehmoodabad police station stating that the constant prayer inside our office indicated that we will follow it with tableegh in the area that they oppose.”
An FIR (428/15) was registered on Nov 26 against unidentified men, Mehmoodabad SHO Sarwar Khan, better known as Sarwar Commando, confirmed to Dawn. The officer added that most of the computers and database was stolen from the office, whereas the walls and remaining property was completely burnt when the police party arrived on the scene at 2:30am on Nov 22. Initially, the owners were told that the fire was a result of short-circuit that the owner refuted by claiming that it was arson. Also, SHO Khan said, some staff members revealed during interrogation that the owner had fired 10 people from the office which “might be the reason two of them decided to damage the property by burning the place down.” However, William refuted this and said, “There were burnt copies of the Holy Bible at the workplace when we got here. I refuse to buy that it could be done by any of our staff members.”
Since there was no place for them to hold the prayers, the staff decided to pray on the street on Nov 29. The police, however, refused to let them sit in the streets as there was already a written complaint filed against them.
Recently, the staff comprising around nine people moved to the first floor of St Thomas Church which is now being used as the office of the Christian web TV. It is now called Gawahi Prayer Centre. “We could not afford buying another office. After pooling in resources with the help of our neighbours and St Peter’s Church, we moved to this office,” added William. Built in 1981, the church receives a large number of people on a daily basis and the staff hopes that they won’t be bothered inside the church for holding prayers. “I think we made the right decision to shift our place of recording. We haven’t received any threats since the incident and I hope we don’t get one in the future as well,” he added.