Someone stole the LNB of the dish antenna belonging to the Ahmadiyya Community, Kot Abdul Malik, district Sheikhupura in September 1999. The Community reported the theft to the police and had a case registered against the unknown accused. The neighbors mistakenly assumed that the complaint was directed at them. They reacted by making a false report to the police of a theft at their home and accused Mr Nazar Hussain, an office bearer of the Ahmadiyya Youth Organization. The police arrested him, detained him for over a fortnight and subjected him to torture.
Mr Nazir’s wife is the President of local Ahmadi women’s organization. The family was then targeted by the opponents and faced hardship.
The misuse of Anti-Terrorist Act (ATA)
Authorities and Ahmadi-bashers in Pakistan discovered in the Anti-Terrorism Act an effective device to persecute Ahmadis. The ATA courts have been given powers to short circuit procedures and expedite the judicial process. The ATA also contains the provision that anyone accused under the religious law PPC 295A can be tried in an Anti-Terrorist Court even though no act of terrorism had been committed. Under the section, the accused can be awarded 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment. As such, they discovered in the ATA a perfect answer to the ‘Qadiani problem’. Whenever an Ahmadi was charged on religious grounds, they would add PPC 295A to it to take him to an ATA court for speedy trial. It was under this policy that Dr Waheed Ahmad of Sind who had been accused of allegedly filling in a Census Form incorrectly was taken to an ATA court and awarded 10 years’ imprisonment in April 1998. Moreover, a new trend appeared whereby judiciary officials themselves started adding unabashedly the PPC 295A to Ahmadis’ charge sheets. The Ahmadiyya cases in which this section was unjustly added are mentioned below:
a. Mr. Mushtaq Ahmad Saggoo, an Ahmadi from Muzaffar Garh, was arrested on charge of preaching in July 1999. When presented before a Magistrate, Muhammad Saeed, he ordered that Section 295A be added. The accused is now facing prosecution in an Anti-terrorist court, although even the prosecution does not accuse him of carrying a weapon or threatening its use.
b. Mr Intizar Ahmad Bajwa was charged under the anti-Ahmadiyya section 298C in April 1999 for preaching. When Magistrate Muhammad Iqbal was approached to grant him release on bail, he not only rejected the request, but also ordered that PPC 295A be added to the charge sheet. An appeal was made to the ATA court that this section was not applicable. The judge Khawaja Javed Ahmad granted the appeal. However, the accusers have gone to the High Court protesting the latest decision.
c. Messers Bashirul Haq and Mubashar Javed, Ahmadis of Pattoki, had allegedly arranged a festivity five years ago to celebrate the centenary of the Divine Sign of eclipses of the sun and the moon in 1894. They were charged under section 295A. Three years later, it was found that they had the Kalima (Islamic creed) written in their shops. On this basis, again a criminal case under PPC 295A was registered against them on 16 June 1997. They have been defending themselves in a court of law since then. However, a few months ago, the magistrate sent their case to an anti-terrorist court at Lahore where proceedings are going on.
d. Mr Munir Ahmad of district Sialkot was accused of preaching but charged perfidiously under 295A on 6 September 1999. His plea for bail was rejected by the ATA court.
e. Mr Tahir Ahmad Nadeem, an Ahmadi youth, received gift of a T-shirt from a relative in the US. The Kalima (Islamic creed) was beautifully written on its front. He put it on and went to the town. There, mullas and some gangsters noticed his shirt and went for him. They grabbed him, beat him up, tore open his shirt and kept it with them. Later in the day, the police raided his house and arrested Tahir. They responded to the howls of the mulla, who threatened to create a law and order situation, close down the city and burn the Ahmadiyya mosque. Rather than arresting those who threatened the peace, the administration arrested the victim and charged him under section PPC 295A. If upheld in a court, the youth could end up in a prison for 10 years. Sher Khan, the DSP reported to the mullas that the police had accepted their demand and a criminal case had been registered.
At the instance of the mullah, the police again raided the residence of the victim to look for some more of such shirts. None were found. However, the inspector took away two copies of the Holy Quran saying that it was illegal for Ahmadis to keep the Quran at their homes. During the night, the police beat up the youth severely to obtain some irrelevant community information from him. The police pushed their cowardly and shameful act still further by taking steps to refer the victim’s case to an Anti-Terrorist Court.
An Ahmadi putting on a shirt with Kalima (Islamic creed) on it is considered guilty of terrorism-how absurd and preposterous!
f. Dr Abdul Ghani of Daska, Sialkot was arrested on accusation of preaching. He was charged under 295-A in addition to other sections on 16 September 1999 and taken to an anti-terrorist court. The judge rejected his plea for bail. An appeal has been made to the High Court.
g. Mr Anis-ur-Rahman of Shahdadpur was accused of preaching his views and was charged under various clauses including the 295A on 15 September 1999.
It would be of interest to give here some essential details of an Ahmadi’s case who was prosecuted in an ATA court.
Mr. Ghulam Mustafa, an Ahmadi religious teacher, was sentenced in March at D.G. Khan to a total of 13 years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of rupees 100,000 on religious charges by a Special Court.
It is derived from the 10-page Judgment that the accused was discovered preaching Qadianiyyat to Muslims. Two mullas, namely Ramazan and Latif, tracked him for some days and eventually caught up with him at about noontime at the tube-well owned by Laal Khan of village Hamdani. When questioned, the accused replied that the advent of Imam Mahdi had taken place and he has been succeeded by four caliphs. He also posed as a Muslim. ‘On hearing this talk about the said Imam Mahdi, they flew into rage and after controlling themselves they decided to put the matter before authorities’, the Judgment justified. The police was informed. It arrived at the site and recovered some homeopathic medicines and some booklets from the accused. In the light of the complaint by mulla Ramazan, a case under Section 298-C was registered against Mr. Ghulam Mustafa for preaching and he was arrested. He was liable to get three years’ imprisonment and fine under this clause if found guilty by the court. His bail application was moved in the court of a magistrate, who rejected it. At this, his application for release on bail was moved in the Sessions Court. The Additional Session Judge, Mohammad Aslam Janpuri, rather than granting the bail, remarked that the accused’s offence attracted section 295A. It was ordered that the accused be tried by a Special Court for the Suppression of Terrorism. The Special Court held its first hearing on 17-03-99 and gave its decision three days later, on 20 March 1999. Mr. B.A. Fakhri, Judge, Special Court ATA-97, D.G. Khan Division convicted the accused under the two clauses and awarded maximum prison terms i.e. 10 years and 3 years of rigorous imprisonment. In addition, Mr. Mustafa was fined Rs. 50,000 fine under each clause, or in default to further undergo six months’ imprisonment on each count.
It is noteworthy and relevant to mention that the case was sent to an Anti-Terrorist court while no terrorism of any kind had occurred and no violence had taken place, nor even alleged. The accused was not using a loud speaker nor did he address a crowd. Out of the few persons he talked to from the village, not even one complained, and none of them agreed to appear as a prosecution witness. The serious charge under PPC 295-A for blasphemy was initially not applied; it was a state official who added it later on by implication.
Maximum prison terms were awarded to the poor accused who carried medicines to provide free treatment to the sick and the needy of the area.
Prosecution under religious laws
Ahmadiyya Community is the only religious denomination that has been singled out for special legislation. Ordinance XX was entirely Ahmadi-specific. It was later incorporated in the 8th Amendment to the Constitution. It is an easy tool not only with authorities and mullas to persecute Ahmadis, but public at large has been made aware of the existence of these laws through seminars, conferences and print-media campaign. As a result, unscrupulous non-Ahmadis use these laws to settle personal scores with Ahmadis. These have been worded so craftily that Ahmadis can be charged of a criminal offence for activities that are a part of their daily routine.
During 1999, 80 Ahmadis were implicated in 26 cases on religious grounds. These are briefly mentioned below. A chart, in which essential data is given, is made available.
At the application of one Nazir Ahmad to the Deputy Commissioner Rajanpur, the police registered a case No. 260 on June 8, 1999 under PPC 298 and 298C against Mr. Iqbal Ahmad, advocate who is district Amir of Ahmadiyya Community, Rajanpur and six other unnamed Ahmadis. According to the accusation, “Mr Iqbal made evil attempts to blackmail Muslims to join Ahmadiyyat, spoke nonsense against the Holy Prophet, held an open meeting and distributed cooked rice, and that he has built a mosque with Kalima (Islamic creed) inscriptions on its walls, thus injured Muslims’ feelings”.
The DSP (legal) gave his opinion that ‘ offence u/s 298/298C PPC seems to be made out’. Subsequent to this perfect but easy co-ordination between the mulla, the executive and the police, a criminal case was registered against Mr Iqbal Ahmad and six unnamed Ahmadis. The addition of these six, speaks volumes of the arbitrary and malicious nature of this case. The idea is to harass numerous Ahmadis in this fabricated case.
The accuser subsequently applied that the PPC 298C be converted to PPC 295C, for death penalty.
Messers Mushtaq Ahmad Saggon and Nasir Ahmad of district Muzaffargarh were booked under PPC 295 on charge of preaching and distribution of literature in case No. 282 at Khangarh police station on July 19. When the case was presented before the magistrate for bail, the state attorney suggested that the case implied Blasphemy and terrorism. The Judicial Magistrate obligingly forwarded the case to the Anti-Terrorist Court at Dera Ghazi Khan. Prosecution commenced there.
In the meantime, anti-Ahmadiyya activists arranged public meetings and processions at Bet Chin and Nasirabad in order to agitate the masses. The accusers have stated in the FIR that the accused arranged a trip for Muslims to visit Rabwah.
It is noteworthy that the Judicial Magistrate himself added PPC 295A and 295C to the charge sheet of the accused, although the police had not done that. This is nothing but highly irresponsible and criminal manipulation of the law to persecute Ahmadis and to expose them to the risk of judicial murder.
Dr Abdul Ghani, an Ahmadi of Daska was arrested by the police on September 16, 1999. He was accused of preaching but was charged under PPC 295A and 298A in addition to the 298C. He faces 10 years in prison.
The police had registered cases against Messers Mushtaq Ahmad Saggoo and his son, Nasir Ahmad Saggoo under the Anti Ahmadiyya Law (298C) and the PPC 295A. Mr. Mushtaq was arrested while Mr. Nasir Ahmad escaped arrest.
On 21 August 1999, the police again raided the residence of Mr Nasir Ahmad Saggoo at about 2230 hrs to arrest him. He was not present at the house; so the police arrested instead his younger brother, Mr. Muhammad Arif. They accused him of providing protection to his brother. The police registered a case against him in FIR Nr 352/99 at Police Station Khan Garh on 21 August 1999, under PPC 216.
The police action defies any comment.
Mr. Tahir Ahmad Nadeem of Mirpur Khas (Sind), an Ahmadi youth was charged under the Anti-terrorism clause 295A for wearing a T-shirt with Kalima (Islamic creed) inscribed on it, on August 10, 1999.
Mr. Munir Ahmad of district Sialkot was charged on September 8, 1999 under the anti-terrorism section 295A for preaching his views.
Lieut. Colonel (Retd) Ayaz Mahmud Khan, the General President of Rabwah and Messers Muhammad Hussain and Muhammad Akbar were charged under 16MPO on behest of a mulla on 11 March 1999.
Ten Ahmadis of Ghatialian, district Sialkot were charged under various laws in Case No 105 on June 4, 1999, ostensibly to maintain law and order, but in fact the entire situation was the result of religious animosity of the anti-Ahmadiyya opposition.
Case No 106 was registered on the same day as above against three Ahmadis of the same village under the same circumstances.
Another case (No.109) was registered in the same village against three Ahmadis, three days later. The aim was to hammer down the local not-so-insignificant Ahmadiyya Community.
Collection of data regarding Ahmadis
During the months of April and May the authorities collected information concerning places of worship, schools, hospitals and such other institutions owned by Ahmadi and Christian communities. Urgent circulars were sent by Deputy Commissioners in April to their lower echelons to provide the above information on priority basis. ‘You will be held responsible for any delay,’ they were told.
In the past, this type of data was hardly ever collected with fair intentions.
Reports were again received in September from various regions that authorities prepared lists of community office-holders of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat. In district Qasur, authorities demanded their Identity Card numbers, addresses and telephone numbers. This is a serious matter and is fraught with grave possibilities.
The fascist exercise continued during October. It was learnt that the police from Lawa Police Station collected data like, the names, I.D. card numbers etc of Ahmadis belonging to the Punjnad community. The information was collected at the orders of the Resident Magistrate. It is obvious that he must have received his instructions from his superiors.
Banning of a great book
Hadrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Supreme Head of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat recently wrote a voluminous great book titled, ‘Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth’. It is the most recent tome on the inter-relationship of religion, philosophy and science. Mr. Tom Cox, a British MP, while introducing the book called its author ‘a true encyclopaedist and polymath in the mold of Averroes and Avicenna’. The government of Pakistan, however, had its own prejudices, and banned the book in the capital, Islamabad. Banning Order of the Chief Commissioner is placed here. The Governor of Punjab also followed suit and banned the book in the Punjab. This he did after October 12, the change of the government.
Expulsion from District Mastung
In Baluchistan, mullas have discovered a convenient procedure to persecute Ahmadis. They prevail upon the district administrators to issue expulsion orders against the targeted Ahmadis. This way the persecutors escape the necessity of proving their accusations in a court trial. This year, they struck in district Mastung where the Deputy Commissioner ordered Mr Muhammad Akram, an Ahmadi, to leave district Mastung within three days until further orders. Among the official reasons given for the expulsion, following are particularly noteworthy:
- 1. You are creating aberrance by ruining creed of people.
- 2. You are working against the constitution of Pakistan and in the interest of non-Muslims.
The extradition order is reproduced here.
The police in Pakistan are not reputed for a fair and non-partisan approach to social problems and communal issues. Most of them are self-seekers and careerists. They do what the politics demand. Their handling of Ahmadiyya cases during the past 16 years has been far below the acceptable minimum propriety. Only one instance is described below to illustrate this opinion.
Two Ahmadi youth own a business at Juana Bungalow, district Muzaffargarh. Since long, religious epithets ‘ O God; O Prophet; God is the best of providers’ were written on their shops. Mullas took notice of these in April. They assembled a crowd, asked the police to accompany them and marched on to the location. There, they told Ahmadis to efface the epithets. Ahmadis refused to comply and told them that they could do that themselves if they insisted. Accordingly, the police undertook the sacrilege themselves.
When authorities find it convenient to violate a principle and volunteer to debase themselves, it is no surprise that they lose their prestige and dignity with the populace. They should only blame themselves.