Ahmadis on the run: Fearing death in People’s Colony

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GUJRANWALA: A pall of fear hangs thick over Gujranwala’s now eerily silent People’s Colony. It has been weeks since an enraged mob set fire to five homes belonging to members of the Ahmadi community, resulting in the deaths of two girls and an elderly woman.

Since the ill-fated Sunday when the incident came to light, police officials have sealed several homes in the area and warily patrol the locality lest a similar episode erupts.

 Policemen are deployed outside the torched homes of Ahmadis living in People
Policemen are deployed outside the torched homes of Ahmadis living in People’s Colony
 Photo shows a padlocked gate at the home of one People
Photo shows a padlocked gate at the home of one People’s Colony resident
 Police have sealed off 11 homes belonging to members of the Ahmadi community
Police have sealed off 11 homes belonging to members of the Ahmadi community

 

Like many stories that pertain to the persecuted community, it is difficult to find people who will speak to journalists without requesting anonymity.

It is no different in People’s Colony, where terrified residents from the community are desperate for their plight to come to a logical end, but afraid to be named for fear of being persecuted further.

Only the dead are identified, because they no longer have to live in fear.

 Photo shows a house blackened by flames
Photo shows a house blackened by flames

 

Residents say they cannot return to their homes, and are too afraid to expose themselves for fear of being targeted by fanatics.

A 50-year-old resident on condition of anonymity told Dawn that he saved 13 members of the Ahmadi community when the rioters set homes ablaze on July 27.

“I helped them escape from the burning houses to a safe rooftop during the riot,” he said. “If I had not saved them, it would been difficult to protect them from the rioting mob.”

The biggest victim of this tragedy is Boota, an Ahmadi man who lost his mother Bashiran Bibi and young daughters Kainat and Hira. His pregnant sister who was visiting from the nearby village of Talwandi Musa Khan for Eid holidays lost her baby in the chaos and fumes during the riot.

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