Tyranny in Kotli, Azad Kashmir
Ahmadiyya place of worship blasted to rubble
Criminal cases under Ahmadi-specific laws registered
Ahmadis disallowed to bid for an official contract, on account of their faith
Unabashed tyranny sweeps District Kotli
THE AUTHORITIES in District Kotli, Azad Kashmir went nearly insane in June this year to grotesquely violate Ahmadis’ human rights and their freedom of faith. Their primary targets were Ahmadiyya places of worship and the worshipers. They registered three criminal cases against a large component of Ahmadi population in three locations of the district. At Kotli itself, the FIR was left open to incriminate any Ahmadi and any number, at any time. The ruthless behavior of the district administration and police indicated orders from higher authorities.
Ahmadis of Bhabhra Heelan, a village in District Kotli, had no mosque, so they undertook to build one. In order to avoid any objection from extremists they voluntarily took care not to build any niche or minaret, although the law does not forbid these. The land on which it was to be built was transferred from the forest department to the ‘revenue’, so as to comply with legal requirements. However, the police, to Ahmadis’ surprise, registered a case under Ahmadi-specific laws PPC 298-B and 298-C against 14 Ahmadi men in FIR No. 173 on June 5, 2008. A large contingent of police arrived at the site on June 6 and blasted away the under-construction place of worship with explosives. It is relevant to mention that having registered the case, the administration and the police did not wait for a court verdict, and proceeded to commit a grave violation of religious nature that any official body should have been extremely reluctant to undertake. No words suffice to comment on this enormous crime committed by a law-enforcing body. (A video of the defiled site is available.)
In the town of Kotli itself, Ahmadis had undertaken repairs and improvements in the structure of their mosque. The extremists made an issue out of it, and in collusion with the police had a case registered in FIR 171/08, under Ahmadi-specific PPC 298-C on June 3, 2008. In fact it is entirely conceivable that the administration planned it that way. The FIR was maliciously left open, in that the accused were not named, so that any Ahmadi could be roped in subsequently. The ruse has caused fear among Ahmadi residents of Kotli city. This is the kind of model freedom, the Azad (Free) Kashmir government offers to the rest of Kashmir.
Ahmadiyya community has its membership in the village of Barali as well. They needed a house of worship and proceeded to build one sometimes back. They also took care not to build a niche or a minaret. Here again the administration forcibly made them stop the construction. So Ahmadis started building a mosque at an alternate location. They had built the pillars and put a roof on top, however Ahmadi-bashers intervened, and the police obligingly registered an FIR against 7 Ahmadis and proceeded to raid various homes for arrests. They arrested a teenager, Naveed Ahmad son of Mr. Muhammad Nazir, who was not even named in the FIR. They subjected him to torture and included his name subsequently in the case as well. Two Ahmadis who came to the police station to inquire about the boy were subjected to humiliation practiced perhaps only by Pakistani police.
The attitude of the local administration was highly prejudiced and discriminatory. The Deputy Commissioner, Bashir Mughal, behaving like a petty tyrant, first refused to receive an Ahmadiyya delegation. Later, when he talked to some Ahmadis, he was arrogant, threatening and even crude. This careerist told the visitors that Ahmadis were a bad people who did not obey the orders (to destroy their own places of worship). The police inspector SHO, Nisar Yousaf was callous enough to say, “If I were not in uniform, I would be the first to do Jihad against Ahmadis.”
During the month of June, officials of the district administration and police made repeated forays into local Ahmadiyya communities to harass and persecute them. At about midnight on 9/10 June night, a large contingent of police encircled the Ahmadiyya mosque at Kotli, cut off its telephone line and demanded entry. Ahmadi residents and those on duty did not open the door and indulged in fervent prayers to remain safe from the official raid and siege. The policemen did not retreat till early morning.
In all fairness, it would not be correct to put the blame primarily on the mulla. The authorities, political as well as administrative, share the guilt of this criminal conduct in the first place, as they wield the power. The following incident would prove it.
Tenders were to be opened in those days at the District Headquarters Hospital, Kotli for provision of food and medicines to patients. Aamer Brothers, an Ahmadiyya company that is in this business since long, also bid for the contract. However the administration (vide Deputy Commissioner’s letter) refused to consider this bid “due to Firqa Ahmadiyya”. A newspaper reported it as: “Noose tightened further against Qadianis. Food contract for District Hospital Kotli refused.”
An Ahmadiyya delegation called on Mr. Qamar uz Zaman, the Federal Minister of Kashmir Affairs to apprise him of the events of Kotli.
It would be relevant to mention that Azad Kashmir is administered these days by prime minister Sardar Atiq Ahmad Khan. He considers a mulla-turned-politician Pir Atiq-ur-Rahman of the Khatme Nabuwwat faction as his spiritual mentor. Sardar Atiq’s father Sardar Qayyum boasts being the first to push a resolution in the Azad Kashmir Assembly to declare Ahmadis a non-Muslim minority.
The question arises as to: Does the Azad (Free) government uphold ‘freedom’ in the true and pure sense of the word, or does it consider itself ‘free’ to profane and outrage human rights and freedom of religion of its smaller communities?
The leader of the mischief, Pir Atiqur Rahman, proceeded to build on this, so he declared holding a Khatme Nabuwwat Conference in Kotli on August 3, 2008. Press reports indicated that concerned authorities decided to play safe this time as the incidents of June had given rise to protest by human rights concerns, so they did not accord permission for the conference. Pir Rahman did not like it, and issued statements in the press against the ban. According to the daily Jang, Lahore of July 30, the Pir said: The Khatme Nabuwwat conference will be definitely held on August 3; no power on earth can stop it. According to the daily Jang, the Pir said the following as well:
The conference will be an important step towards solidarity of Pakistan, the freedom struggle and annexation drive of the Kashmiri people.
We are Muslims first, and Pakistani Kashmiris later.
Qadianis were declared Kafir in 1973 in Azad Kashmir through efforts of Sardar Abdul Qayyum.
Sardar Atiq Ahmad Khan should use his God-given talents and shut the door to the mischief of Qadianiat.
The English through a grand conspiracy used Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who was a man of bad character, against the Muslims.
It appears that Sardar Atiq has put a religious cripple on his shoulders, who will not be easily shaken off now. The Pir surely has the potential to become a Mulla Umar of Azad Kashmir.
As stated above the officials had become wiser, so they withheld permission for the Jalsa. The Pir was angry and he took to routine threats and propaganda. As expected, the authorities readily wilted and the Jalsa was held as planned. A report on the Jalsa, compiled mainly from the print media, is produced below.
The pre-conference publicity report was published in many vernacular dailies. The daily Ausaf, Lahore printed its report from Kotli on August 3, 2008 Excerpts:
Khatme Nabuwwat Conference today. Kotli wears festive look. Processions arrive.
Officials of the local council, Electricity Department and Public Health have become active. Malik Muhammad Nawaz Khan, the Senior Minister inspected the arrangements accompanied by District officials and the Management of the conference.
The Prime Minister Sardar Atiq Ahmad Khan and former Prime Minister Barrister Sultan Mahmud Chaudhry are also expected to attend.
A caravan of hundreds of vehicles carrying moths of the lamp of Khatme Nabuwwat has left District Bagh for Kotli.
The conference will be attended by hundreds of thousands (lakhs) of the moths of Prophethood, who will not rest till the destruction of Qadianiat.
Security groups have been formed for the Conference. In their meeting it was said that they are ever ready to die for the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and will spare no sacrifice to that end.
With relevance to the occasion, the Khatib (sermon-giver) of the Jame Mosque Baloch addressed a congregation and said: “Conspiracies are going on at international level against Islam and Islamic values, hence it is essential to participate in this conference.
The mulla has become quite competent in the field of modern techniques of propaganda. At this occasion, special articles were provided to Urdu newspapers for printing. The conference was reported under big headlines by a number of vernacular dailies. Following excerpts are also given from the daily Ausaf of August 4, 2008:
Pir Atiqur Rahman said that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani was an apostate and all his followers are outside the pale of Islam. If Qadianis live here as non-Muslims, their life and property are safe; but if they follow Islamic practices (Sha’air) then anytime the greatest incident can happen. (Please note the open threat – Ed.)
Sardar Abdul Qayyum (ex-president of Azad Kashmir) said, “Minorities have total freedom vide the national constitution, but in an Islamic state they are not allowed to preach their ideology and faith, nor shall we allow that”.
The Pir said: “Qadianis are no problem for us. The admirers of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) will never allow anyone to talk against the dogma of the End of Prophethood.”
Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan, addressing the media men at the local state rest house, said that he will talk to the federal authorities to include a special column for Qadianis to enter their identity in passports and national identity cards.
Sardar Qayyum said: The incumbent leaders are working on personal agenda rather than national agenda.
The Pir said: “The heavy attendance at the Khatme Nabuwwat conference, despite the rain, has proved that we can cross rivers of blood to make the Khatme Nabuwwat Conference a success. My message to Qadianis is: Live within our state by remaining within your binds.(emphasis added)
What was not reproduced in the press was the foul and abusive language used by these so-called divines against the Ahmadiyya community and its holy founder. They used provocative language and distributed sectarian pamphlets. They made the audience vow a social boycott of Ahmadis. They passed the following resolutions, inter alia:
Removal of Ahmadis from key-posts
Inclusion of ‘end of Prophethood’ as a subject in school syllabi
Ban on MTA, the Ahmadiyya TV channel
Ban on Ahmadis regarding Islamic practices
Vigorous implementation of anti-Ahmadiyya ordinance.
The organizers expected an attendance of 100,000 persons, but on account of the rain not more than 2500 turned up. “The blessed rain arrived as a token of Divine support,” commented a devotee columnist. It was surprising that when the conference ended, the rain stopped. While the conference was in progress the canopy over the stage collapsed and some people were injured.
The authorities were considerate in the sense that they provided security to the Ahmadiyya mosque and business locations on the day of the conference.
“Govt talks tough as inaction against hate-mongers is assailed in NA,” reported the Dawn on August 21. It appears that violations of Ahmadis’ human rights were so outrageous and manifest that human rights concerns took notice and the Azad Kashmir government was told to rein in their extremists and stop supporting them. This has had some effect on the unbridled activism of Pir Atiqur Rahman, so the surge of anti-Ahmadiyya activism subsided over the following months. It, however, attempted a revival in Mirpur during the month of December. Its report is given below.
Jamiat ul Ulama Azad Kashmir, Anjuman Talabah Islam and other Islamist parties announced holding a joint Khatme Nabuwwat conference in Mirpur. They mounted a publicity campaign during the month of November through wall-chalking, posters and banners. The conference was scheduled for November 29, 2008. On the appointed date, the students of ATI took out a procession that comprised not more than 70 participants. They displayed a banner on their van, on which it was written: SET FIRE TO THE EDIFICES OF AHMADIYYA (Qadianiat ke aiwanon ko aag laga do). The attendance at the conference remained very poor during the day. The participants were mostly students, including those from madrassahs. The loud speakers were installed. The police was present. The audience waited for the arrival of Pir Atiqur Rahman, but he failed to turn up.
The speakers targeted the U.S. and American policies in a big way. They mentioned that there were sixteen Qadiani communities in Kotli, and they worshipped in places that resembled mosques; these had niches and minarets, so the government should have their buildings altered. “Qadianis are non-Muslims, and they should learn to live like other non-Muslims,” an orator demanded. They used slander and abuse against Ahmadi leaders.
It seems that generally the people of Mirpur rejected the call of the mulla and put him in his place. It is reasonable to deduce that the mulla is impotent if deprived of state support.
Op-ed: Religion is unfortunately becoming the propriety domain of those who espouse a particular physical appearance. Without regard to any intellectual content they are willing to impose a particular social conduct upon the people, at the point of pain, in a perverted display of irreligious thuggery in the name of religion.
Javed Hassan Aly in the daily Dawn, Lahore; August 29, 2008
Epilogue: The incidents of Kotli could not have occurred without the approval, indeed the instructions of Sardar Atique Ahmad Khan, the prime minister of Azad Kashmir. He lost his post in the very first week of the new year.