The evil of the Anti-Terrorism act
The government legislated Anti-Terrorism Act in 1997, whereby Anti-Terrorist Special Courts were set up to expeditiously handle cases involving terrorism and to award punishments. Grave apprehensions were expressed at the time by various sections of the society about the possibility of misuse of this legislation. Future events have shown that those apprehensions were justified. The religious extremists were delighted to discover in this legislation possibilities of harming and terrorizing the peaceful Ahmadiyya Community. The government gave them a big helping hand by declaring the religious clause PPC 295A as cognizable by anti-terrorism courts. Ahmadis who are not even remotely involved in terrorism have been hauled up before these courts, and punished heavily. Mr. Waheed Ahmad, an Ahmadi was accused of filling in someone else’s Census Data form incorrectly and was awarded 10 years’ imprisonment. He is in prison for the last two and half years. The malpractice has continued during the military regime and despite the fact that the regime has declared that Year 2000 will be observed as the Year of Human Rights and Dignity, no breaks have been applied to the misuse of the ATA Act against Ahmadis. Fifteen Ahmadis from Sind who were wrongfully charged under PPC 295A, are in prison for the last two and half years; they remain incarcerated awaiting a Supreme Court decision on whether they should be tried in a normal court. Fresh cases registered during 2000 C.E. are mentioned below.
Sargodha: Laiq Ahmad, an Ahmadi shopkeeper in Liaquat Colony, Sargodha had the Kalima (Islamic creed) written in his shop. Ahmad Ali Zafar, a local magistrate took notice and had the Kalima (Islamic creed) removed. Extremists were still not satisfied, and maintained their agitation. Obligingly, the police registered a case in the Cantonment police station against the Ahmadi on January 28, 2000 under sections 295A, 298C and 16 MPO. The severe clause of 295A was applied against the victim on the grounds that the word O Allah, O Mohammad and Bismilla were found written in his shop. According to the police FIR, it was under the direction of the deputy commissioner (Nr 116800), that the inquiry was held. The DC’s instructions were given on an Intelligence Report titled: Activities of Qadianis. The police report incorrectly mentioned that these words had generated great tension and agitation in the local population. Only a local mulla had passed a resolution against the inscriptions, in the mosque.
Daryapur, District Sialkot: Section PPC 295A was applied on April 28, against 10 Ahmadis who have been implicated in two criminal cases on religious grounds. One case has been registered for preaching, while the other is a two years old case based on objection to a niche in a mosque. It is noteworthy that the deputy commissioner, who is expected to protect human rights of marginalized communities, himself intervened and was instrumental in application of the ATA section. The Deputy Superintendent of Police here was the same individual who was the SHO when the ugly Chak Sikandar anti-Ahmadiyya riots erupted there in 1989 against Ahmadis.
The police of P.S. Sabz Peer arrested Mr. Ghulam Mustafa, the president of the local Ahmadiyya Community, Mr Muhammad Yusuf, his brother and Mr Muhammad Afzal, an ex-president.
The mulla-bureaucracy duet made this vicious assault on the persecuted Ahmadiyya Community with a vengeance in not only applying the Anti Terrorism Act but also making it a weapon of mass harassment. Of course, no terrorism whatsoever was involved.
Bharokay Kalan, District Sialkot: Four Ahmadis, namely Messers Ghulam Mustafa, Hamid, Maqsud Ahmad and Mian Fazil were booked under PPC 298C and 295A by the police, at the accusation of some mullas on July 31, 2000. A few Ahmadis of Bharokay Kalan were watching a TV program on MTA (Muslim Television Ahmadiyya) in the garage of Mr. Nawab Din. On account of the hot weather, the garage door opening in the street, was left open. At this, someone from the village informed a Mulla Firoz at Daska Town, who conspired to have a criminal case registered under the Anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance against four Ahmadis. The whole case is false and baseless. One of the named accused, Mr Ghulam Mustafa was the president of Daryapur Ahmadiyya Community. He was not even present at the occasion; in fact, he has never visited Bharokay. He had been earlier implicated in another Ahmadiyya case during last April, and the mulla wanted to put him to more trouble. Another Ahmadi, who was not even accused, was taken in custody by the police.
Subsequently, fifty men of the local non-Ahmadiyya faction, gave in writing to the police that the charges were false. Ahmadis sent this supporting evidence to all the senior officials including the Governor, and requested them to hold the enquiry. As a result, the charge under PPC 295A was dropped and alibi of two Ahmadis was established, but PPC 298C remained stuck despite the fact that the lie of the mullas had been exposed.
Takht Hazara: As if murder of five Ahmadis of Takht Hazara and desecration of their place of worship on 10th November was not sufficient harm, the police implicated five local Ahmadis in a case of PPC 295A and other clauses. These Ahmadis were important as complainants and witnesses of the riot; they were charged simply because extremist elements involved in the riot demanded so. This amounted to adding insult to injury.
Killed by Police torture:
Mr. Basharat Ahmad, an Ahmadi teacher of Massan Badah was held by Dokri police on August 9, 2000. Mr. Basharat had 2000 rupees with him, and the constables intended to plunder him. They took their victim to the police station where he became unconscious. The police moved him to the local hospital and later to the hospital at Larkana where he died. Subsequently, the police asked for pardon; the relatives of the deceased readily granted.
How easy for the police to murder a citizen, and get away with it if he happens to be an Ahmadi!
Authorities’ share in persecution
The state adopted the Anti-Ahmadiyya and other oppressive Religious laws and took upon itself the duty of perpetuation of tyranny and injustice. The government, consequently implements the state policy through its rules and directives. The sheer nature of the ignoble task creates the permissive atmosphere in which the government, on behest and desire of the Mulla, does more than what is obligated by the Constitution and the law. At the lower level, authorities and officials stoop still lower to enforce the law with personal motives and needs as the prime movers. They go into the forbidden area where they were not required to trespass by the wording of the law. Some of the following incidents would illustrate the attitudes, commissions and omissions of the officials concerned:
The way of the Bureaucracy
Mr Wahid Ahmad, Ahmadi, who is undergoing 10 years’ imprisonment at Hyderabad for alleged incorrect filling of the Census Form of a friend, is suffering from a serious cardiac malfunctioning. He applied for removal to a hospital. It was after a great deal of effort that the Home Secretary permitted, on 16 February 2000, his admission in a hospital. Thirteen days later, the Jail Superintendent wrote a letter to the police to supply a strong contingent to escort the prisoner to the hospital. He wrote: Supply of very very strong police escort for shifting the UTP Waheed Ahmad from Central Prison Hyderabad to LMCH Hyderabad. The police declared their intention to provide 10 strong men when available. The suffering prisoner could wait.
Mulla/constable team work
Ahmadiyya communities in Baluchistan villages close to Karachi, like Hub and Gadani etc, are linked with Karachi for community administration. On May 9, a group of five Ahmadis drove to those villages for community work. The mullas of the area came to know about the arrival of these visitors, and they organized an agitation in liaison with the local police. On their return, the visitors were stopped by the police at the Gadani Mor post. Soon a vehicle arrived that carried three officials of the police Levis, two mullas and a colleague. The police required the visitors to report to Tehsildar. As this move was fraught with danger, the visitors refused to be taken to Tehsildar. Eventually the police obtained orders from the Assistant Commissioner to bring them over to him at Hub post. A police van, with SHO on board, arrived to take them there. It was about 7.30 p.m. when they arrived at the Hub Police Station. Outside the police station, there was an angry crowd about 200 strong. They were demanding that an FIR be registered. The AC proposed to Ahmadis that they deny being Ahmadis; the visitors refused this. Eventually the AC conveyed to the mullas that for technical reasons an FIR could not be registered against Ahmadis, however they would give an undertaking that they would not visit this area any more. It was thus, that the mullas were persuaded to depart, and at about midnight the Ahmadiyya delegation was allowed to proceed homeward. Ahmadis’ vehicle was however not released till two days later. In a way, the visitors got away lightly – they could have ended up in deep trouble.
Mullas trounce the Authorities – once again
The village Chak 6/11-L, district Sahiwal is infested with anti-Ahmadiyya agitators. In the beginning of the year, they reportedly lost a motorcycle. In their report to the police they blamed two Ahmadi youth without any supporting evidence. The police SHO looked into the case, and finding nothing against the Ahmadis, took no action against the accused. This enraged the agitators and they decided to stoke the religious fire and started an anti-Ahmadiyya ‘sticker’ campaign through a mulla. Ahmadi youth attempted to dissuade the mulla from the smear campaign. It resulted in a scuffle, but no one was hurt. The mulla reported to the police that a murder attempt had been made against him. The SHO detained the two Ahmadi youth overnight at the police station, however on finding that nothing serious had happened released them the next day.
Mullas, who consider themselves to be a part of the ruling establishment in Pakistan these days, did not tolerate the impartial attitude of the local police. They got together and conspired to mount a severe agitation. They declared that an open conference would be held at the Ahle-Hadith mosque, and threatened wide spread agitation and violence. They made numerous unfair and unjustified demands. Ahmadis contacted the police, the Assistant Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner. They all reassured them. In the meantime the authorities permitted the mullas to hold their open-air conference.
Eventually the authorities reacted as always – they condescended to comply with all the demands of the Mulla. They removed religious epithets from the Ahmadiyya mosque. The SHO police, who had refused to play the Mulla’s game, was transferred forthwith.
Mullas were delighted at their victory. They declared that the occasion was thenceforth converted into a Thanksgiving Conference. They made statements as follows:
- Just the way Rabwah has been converted to Chenabnagar, Qadianis will also be done away with; there will be no sign left of them. Allah Wasaya
- We are ever ready to lay down our lives for the honour of the Holy Prophet. Maulvi Ahmad Hashmi
- Qadiani plant has been planted by the British Raj. Mufti Ghani
- Wherever Qadianis will raise their head, we shall crush it. Allah Wasaya
- We shall not sit still, till the Sharia penalty for apostasy (i.e. death) is implemented. Mansur Ahmad
- Qadianis are traitors to Islam and to the State. Qari Tahir
- We shall wage Jihad against all those who obstruct the dogma of Finality of Prophethood- Maulana Ikramul Haq.
Reported in the Daily Nawa-i-Waqt ; 26 March 2000
The Daily Insaf (of March 25) reported the incident under the following headline:
Authorities Bow Down to the Protest of Khatame Nabuwwat- All Demands Accepted
The question naturally arises – Who is ruling Pakistan, the Government or the Mulla?
Official enquiry in Distt Bahawalnagar
Officials are generally slow to move in this country except when mulla approaches them concerning Ahmadis. Some miscreants wrote to the Assistant Commissioner CHISHTIAN that Ahmadis of Chak 66/Murad agitated them by their proselytizing activities, they have a mosque with minarets that should be demolished and they make call for prayers that should be banned. On July 1, 2000 the local magistrate, accompanied by three persons arrived dutifully at the site and made the following quarries:
- When was this place of worship built?
- Whether Ahmadi maulvis undertake preaching here?
- Is there a dish antenna installed here?
- Have any fresh additions been made to the building?
- Is the Kalima (Islamic creed) written inside the building?
Report of just-released Ahmadi prisoners
Messers Ilyas Ahmad, Ghaffar Ahmad and Manzoor Ahmad, Ahmadis of Chichawatni had been arrested in August 2000 under the anti-Ahmadiyya section PPC 298C in a fabricated case on false accusations.
They were detained in Block 7, which is a prison within the prison. Prisoners there are treated with greater severity and they face more hardships. Mostly, prisoners condemned to death are detained there. Ahmadis were refused the benefit of release on bail. This prolonged their stay behind bars.
Ordinarily prison officers should have nothing to do with inmates’ religion except provide some essential facilities for rites etc. But their behaviour in this case defies explanation.