297. Trespassing on burial places, etc.: Whoever, with the intention of wounding the feelings of any person, or of insulting the religion of any person, or with the knowledge that the feelings of any person are likely to be wounded, or that the religion of any person is likely to be insulted thereby, commits any trespass in any place of worship or on any place of sculpture, or any place set apart for the performance of funeral rites or as a depository for the remains of the dead, or offers any indignity to any human corpse or causes disturbance to any persons assembled for the performance of funeral ceremonies, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
Pakistan Penal Code 297
Pakistani mullas, in league with the officialdom, have crossed all limits of decency and civilized behavior when dealing with Ahmadis. They persecute them even in death. Subsequent to the defiling of 120 graves in an Ahmadiyya graveyard in a posh area of Lahore, a blogger titled his article: “Ahmadi plight: Dead but not resting in peace.” It might appear unbelievable but there is firm evidence that the police were not only sympathetic to the vandals, they were complicit in the crime.
The above-mentioned law is violated routinely not only by mullas but also by the police and the administration. The contents of this annual report are a testimony to that. The authorities go even further; they occasionally book Ahmadis under this law.
Ahmadi dead denied peace in death – in the capital of the Punjab
120 graves vandalized in posh Model Town, Lahore
Lahore; December, 2012: Approximately 120 tombstones were vandalized by 10 to 15 armed men wearing masks at about 02:30 on December 2, 2012 at the Ahmadiyya graveyard located not far from the family home of the Sharif brothers.
The trouble started in August this year. Rana Tufail, resident of Ravi Road, is self-styled consultant to the Tahaffuz Namoos Rasool Lawyers Group and an anti-Ahmadi fanatic. He complained to the Police Station Liaqat Abad in writing that Islamic inscriptions were written on the gravestones of Ahmadis in their cemetery in Model Town. He supported it with photos of the gravestones, and asked that a case be registered against Mr. Tahir Ahmad Kashif (the Ahmadiyya missionary there), Mr. Muzaffar Ahmad Qureshi (supervisor of the cemetery) and two unknown Ahmadis.
Rana Tufail is the same person who previously applied to the authorities to remove Islamic inscriptions from an Ahmadiyya mosque in Sultan Pura, Lahore. He was greatly encouraged when the police not only removed Islamic inscriptions from the mosque but also demolished the minarets of that mosque in May 2012.
The police called the Ahmadiyya administration to explain. It is learnt that Rana Tufail approached a court which ordered the police to register a criminal case against Ahmadis. The judge sought a report from the police
Approximately 30 mullas accompanied by a few lawyers called on the SHO Liaqat Abad in October 2012 and demanded that an FIR be registered concerning the Ahmadiyya graveyard in Model Town. The mullas referred to the court order which was open to interpretation. The mullas had the audacity to remind the police of the ‘fate’ of Governor Salman Taseer.
The SHO sent for the president of the Model Town Ahmadiyya community and told him to either remove the tombstones or seek a stay order from the court. Later the DSP repeated the same demand. Both options were outside the law, in Ahmadis’ opinion. Ahmadis, of course, would not undertake defiling of the holy inscriptions, police were told that.
The mullas fomenting the trouble were led by imam (prayer leader) of Jamia Muhammadiya Rizwia in Khan Colony that is located in the back of the graveyard.
Eventually the mullas took the law in their own hand and indulged in attack, sacrilege and loot on December 2, 2012. The vandals tied up the grave-digger, his family and the lone security guard, roughed them up and moved fast to defile the headstones with the heavy tools they brought along.
The guard had succeeded in telephoning the police before his capture. The whole vandalism episode lasted for about 35 minutes. The vandals ran away on arrival of the police. They took away the security guard’s rifle with them, as also a cell-phone and some money of the duty personnel. No arrests were made.
The policemen casually took brief statements from the roughed up staff and went back to rest. The next day when contacted by a press reporter the SHO of Liaquatabad police station told him that he was not aware of any such incident.
Earlier, activists of Khatme Nabuwwat Lawyers Forum had approached Liaquatabad police station seeking removal of Islamic inscriptions from tombstones at this graveyard. The case was under police and judicial process.
Such cases had occurred in the recent past in the Punjab in District Lodhran, District Hafizabad, and also in Jaranwala, District Faisalabad where the police not only broke up the headstones but also took away the pieces – only to placate the mullas.
The Ahmadiyya Community spokesperson said, “The administration has entirely failed in protecting Ahmadis’ human rights granted in Article 20 of the Constitution. Ahmadis’ lives and property are not safe; this treatment of their dead is an insult to humanity.”
The HRCP Chairperson Zohra Yusuf stated, “This is an unmistakable act of intimidation and escalation in the campaign of hate and violence against the Ahmadi community. … The message the attackers wanted to convey was simple: that they could act with impunity and without fear of any repercussions if Ahmadis were at the receiving end. If the authorities want to send a different message, the time to act is now.”
“Even in a country where unspeakable violence is inflicted on the living as a matter of course, the visceral hatred evident in Monday’s attack on an Ahmadi graveyard in Lahore is chilling,” commented DAWN.COM.
Further post-event developments shed very unpleasant light on the role of the police in this deplorable incident. From 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. that day no police official contacted the Ahmadiyya community officials. At 6 p.m. a community delegation visited the police station Liaquat Abad and requested the SHO to register an FIR with the Ahmadi security guard at the graveyard as the complainant. The SHO refused to do that and said that he was not aware of any such incident, nor had he received any call on 15. This, of course, was not true. He, however, told the delegation that he would first send the Addl SHO to visit the site.
Later, the delegation was told to come to the police station at 8 p.m. On arrival the delegation found the SHO acting more hostile and negative than even before. He declared that he would ‘interrogate’ the grave-digger and the guard further before making a decision about the FIR. He said, “You people have done little in the issue raised by the Khatme Nabuwwat faction. They have waited long enough.” He was told that the progress on the mullas’ complaint should not be linked to this incident. “Does the registration of an FIR against Ahmadis authorize the mullas to attack the Ahmadiyya graveyard?” asked the delegation.
After dark, the SHO, in company of three policemen, visited the graveyard and apparently started counting the graves. On arrival at a corner, he exclaimed, “What is lying here?” Lo and behold, it was the same rifle that the attackers had taken away when they fled after the attack. It should be mentioned that all along the day Ahmadis had visited the vandalized site, and some additional duty personnel were also there, but this rifle was not found there. Only after dark, the SHO discovered it lying there.
The SHO said that he would register the FIR on condition that Ahmadis do not mention the loss of the cell-phone and money therein. He also, for no valid reason, noted down the names, parentages, addresses and phone numbers of the youth on guard duty in the graveyard during his visit. The FIR was eventually registered almost 24 hours after the incident occurred although prima facie the commission of the crime and first information was obvious and available. All this makes his and the police’s role very suspicious in the entire episode.
Lahore is the same city where two years ago, 86 Ahmadis were gunned down by terrorists in two mosques, while the police waited outside till the attackers ran out of ammunition or were captured by the worshippers.
The provincial government that looks the other way to huge banners on Chauburjee in central Lahore on which the banned Jamaat Dawa exhorts: JIHAD – AN OBLIGATION NOW OR NEVER (photo placed below) sends a clear message to its law-enforcing agencies to care little for a marginalized community if threatened by religious bigots and bullies.
Tailpiece – Those who took notice and those who decided to ignore: Some notables condemned this incident forthrightly. These included, for example, Mr. Altaf Hussain, Mr. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Ambassador Sherry Rehman, Senator Pervez Rashid, Ms Sharmila Farooqi of Sindh, and Mr. Jehangir Tareen of TIP. From the media Ms. Nasim Zehra, Mr. Abbas Nasir, Mr. Raza Rumi, Ms. Huma Yusuf, Ms. Saba Eitzaz, Ms. Gulmina Bilal Ahmad and Mr. Mushtaq Minhas wrote articles, op-eds or expressed disgust over this outrage. The English press, for example, The Express Tribune, The News, The Dawn, The Daily News and Pakistan Today reported it as a news item, and denounced this barbarism. TV channels GEO, EXPRESS reported the incident. The BBC provided good coverage. A well-worded op-ed on this incident, written by Huma Yousaf was placed on the Internet in blogs.nytimes.com of New York Times on December 6, 2012. It sums up well its lead ‘ahmadis-a-special-target-of-discrimination-in-Pakistan/..”. Apart from these decent individuals and outlets, a large majority of the leaders of the society in the country decided to ignore this savagery and sought comfort in keeping quiet. The vernacular press, barring a few exceptions, took no notice and expressed no opinion. The daily Ummat (Urdu) of Karachi however took note and published an article with the title: Qadianis indulge in theatrics to escape legal action.
Police remove religious inscriptions from Ahmadis’ graves
Mangat Uncha, District Hafiz Abad; August 17, 2012: A police inspector came to visit the Ahmadiyya graveyard and asked Ahmadis as to why they did not remove the Islamic inscriptions from the gravestones? Ahmadis told him that they would neither remove them nor would allow any non-official to do that, they would however not resist the police doing that sacrilege in uniform. The inspector came at 6 p.m. with some constables in trail and covered the inscriptions with black paint.
The daily The Express Tribune published this story on August 18, 2012, (some extracts):
“Faisalabad: A heavy contingent on Friday, on the demand of a banned organization, removed Quranic verses and religious texts written on tombstones of Ahamdi graves to save the area from clashes on religious grounds.
Calling it a positive achievement, the SHO claimed that no case had been filed against the act as it was meant to save the locality from clashes.
Secretary Amoor-e-Aama (Public Affairs), Jamaat Ahmadiyya Faisalabad, Syed Mahmood Ahmad Shah, however, criticized the action and said that the persecution of Ahmadis was wrong and may lead to increased hatred between the two communities.
There are about 150 Ahmadi graves located in the graveyard while about 35 graves of Muslims are also found there.”
The BBC Urdu spread the story on August 19, 2012. It included the version attributed to the police that Ahmadis had themselves painted the inscriptions white and had informed the police. This was a lie. Ahmadis would never defile pious inscriptions. The BBC report also mentions that earlier the town administration and the police jointly demolished the minarets of an Ahmadiyya mosque in Kharian, Punjab.
Ahmadiyya cemetery desecrated
Jaranwala, District Faisalabad; September 4, 2012: Opposition to Ahmadis has been on the rise here for some time. They applied to the local police to remove Islamic inscriptions from the gravestones of Ahmadis in their cemetery. Ahmadis told the police that they would not do it themselves nor allow any civilian to do it, however if the police decide to do it, they will not resist. The police insisted but Ahmadis did not comply with these orders that were in grotesque violation of their freedom of religion.
Police desecrated Ahmadiyya cemetery in Jaranwala, District Faisalabad
The police came to the site on September 4, 2012 well after darkness had set in. They demolished the 23 gravestones and took away the pieces. Mr. Sajid Farooqi, Chairman of Jaranwala Peace Committee and Khadim Nadeem Qadri a Khatme Nabuwwat leader actively backed this profane undertaking.
Defiling an Ahmadi’s grave – with police support
Mirpur, Sindh; April 6, 2012: Local mullas raided the grave of Mr. Mansur Iqbal Rabbani, an Ahmadi, broke it up and took away the tombstone.
Mr. Rabbani had died sometime ago and was buried in his own land. A few other Ahmadis’ graves are also located there. This land was subsequently sold to another party.
Mr. Rabbani’s son, Mr. Naushad Ahmad had the grave re-done and installed a new tombstone.
The mullas took note of this. They arrived with a group of miscreants, with a police van in support. They were harsh with the residents who live nearby, damaged the graves, pulled out the new tombstone and took it away.
Dahranwali, District Hafizabad: Mr. Sanaullah, Ahmadi, died here on 31 December 2012. He was 75. He was buried in the common graveyard at a location to which all parties consented.
The next day, some religious vandals dug up his grave and threw his dead body out in the open. The village folk assembled to discuss the outrage. The non-Ahmadi elders stated on oath that they had no knowledge of those who committed the profane act.
The police arrived at the site of the incident. They divided the graveyard in two parts, allocating one to the Ahmadis.
Mr. Sanaullah was re-buried in the newly allocated Ahmadiyya section of the cemetery.
Ahmadi dead – buried, then exhumed by non-Ahmadis
Khanewal; April 19, 2012: Sheikh Ghulam Sarwar, Ahmadi, died on April 9, 2012. His non-Ahmadi brothers consulted a non-Ahmadi mulla and decided to undertake final rites and burial under their own arrangements. The Ahmadiyya community advised Mr. Sarwar’s sons that as the deceased was an Ahmadi, his burial etc should be undertaken by Ahmadis, although if others wished to offer funeral prayer for the deceased, they could do so. However, the will of Mr. Sarwar’s elder brother prevailed and they undertook the funeral prayer and buried him in the general graveyard.
A mulla who is from a different sect than that of the one who led the deceased’s funeral prayer raised a hue and cry on the ground that an Ahmadi had been buried in a Muslim graveyard. He issued a fatwa that those who had offered funeral prayer for the deceased, would have their marriages annulled (Nikah toot gia), and would be out of the pale of Islam. This group told Mr. Sarwar’s children to take out their father’s dead body or they would exhume it themselves and throw it out. They threatened them with taking out a violent procession.
The deceased’s children were left with no option but to seek Ahmadis’ co-operation, which was extended to them in their plight. They were advised to proceed in accordance with the law. So they applied to a judge to allow exhumation and shifting of the dead body to an Ahmadiyya graveyard.
On the given date of April 19, a large number of mullas assembled in the court, where the judge authorized exhumation under police supervision and security.
The mullas, however, had their own plan of mischief. One who called himself ‘Sadr (President) Khatme Nabuwwat’ intended to proceed independently with exhumation. He was told of the court order that the exhumation would take place only under police supervision.
Later in the evening, the distressing and agonizing operation of disinterment took place in the presence of the police, intelligence agencies and media. “The process took place in the presence of thousands of people and religious leaders of the area,” the daily Dawn reported the next day.
Defiling of graves
Chak 165 E.B. Shahzad Abad, District Pakpattan; July 2012: A group of miscreants damaged tombstones at all the five Ahmadiyya graves in a private graveyard in this village and wrote anti-Ahmadiyya graffiti on them.
In the vicinity of these graves there is tomb of a saint, Syed Ashraf Ali Shah who died 300 years ago. The miscreants attacked this tomb first and set it on fire before attacking the Ahmadiyya graves.
The incident was reported to the police who registered an FIR.
Desecration of Ahmadiyya graveyard and a vicious attempt
Chak Chatha, District Hafizabad; October 19, 2012: Anti-Ahmadi activities have been on a steep rise in District Hafizabad for some time now. In August this year the police desecrated the Ahmadiyya cemetery in Mangat Uncha of District Hafizabad on behest of mullas. Encouraged by this, mullas put pressure on the police to remove Quranic verses and Islamic inscriptions from the gravestones of Ahmadis in Chak Chatha as well. The police tried to persuade Ahmadis to commit this desecration themselves. Ahmadis refused to do that. Some unknown men came to the Ahmadiyya cemetery on October 19, 2012 during the night and erased Islamic inscriptions from gravestones.
Certain strange incidents happened on the same night. A 2.5 feet long snake was found at the table in Dr. Basharat Ahmad’s clinic. Dr. Ahmad is the local president of the Ahmadiyya community. A 1.5 feet long snake was thrown at about 17:00 in the courtyard of Mr. Iftikhar-ud-Din’s house, an office-bearer of the local Ahmadiyya community. Similarly, a snake was found in the clinic of Dr. Shafiqur Rahman. Dr. Rahman went out to fetch something to kill it but could not locate it on return. Fortunately no Ahmadi was hurt in this ingenious attack.
Peace disturbed over demand of disinterment
Chak 105 GB, Bangay, District Faisalabad; June 2012: Mr. Nazir Ahmad died and was buried in the common graveyard as per practice in the village. However, this time mullas decided to be sectarian even in death, and applied to the police for disinterment of the dead body of the ‘Qadiani’ (Ahmadi).
The SHO was inclined to placate the mullas. He urged the Ahmadis to remove the dead body and bury it elsewhere; where, nobody knows, because there is no separate land allocated yet to Ahmadis to bury their dead. As the agitation was growing, the Superintendent of Police (SP) sent for both the parties to come to his office.
The S.P. made the following proposals:
- The issue be left to the Peace Committee (comprising local mullas), and its verdict be implemented.
- Ahmadis be allocated a separate area for their dead. (The mullas demanded that the first to be buried there would be Nazir Ahmad.)
- The issue is taken to the court.
The mullas demanded that in case of non-implementation of the award, a criminal case under anti-Ahmadi law PPC 298-C be registered against Ahmadis.
The SP appeared to be wilting to please the clerics. He told Ahmadis to hold a press conference and state that the issue has been amicably settled. Ahmadis replied that they were not in a position to comply in the absence of a settlement.
While the higher officials of the police were considering a reasonable settlement, the mullas decided to act independently to disinter the dead body. Five mullas of the Khatme Nabuwwat faction visited the village in the afternoon of June 26, 2012 and undertook a recce of Ahmadis’ graves in the graveyard. The police came to know of their visit and their intention to undertake disinterments. The CCPO (the senior police official in the area) was approached by the village elders with the request that mullas should not be allowed to defile the graves and the dead.
The CCPO ordered a large contingent of the police to proceed to the village and announce that no one would be allowed to disinter the dead. Mullas were told to approach some magistrate/judge for orders.
Problematic burial of an Ahmadi
Bandi, District Nawab Shah; February 12, 2012: An Ahmadi, Mr. Yusuf Arain died here on February 12, 2012. He was buried in the common graveyard of the village where Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis have been buried for decades. This time the mullas objected to the burial of an Ahmadi in the common graveyard. They protested and had it published in the vernacular press that, “Since Qadianis were non-Muslims according to the law, their burial in the common graveyard is not permissible.” They demanded serious notice by the authorities.
Hostile move in District Faisalabad
Lathianwala, Faisalabad; March 10, 2012: The local Ahmadiyya community took permission from the Deputy Superintendent of Police to wall the local Ahmadiyya cemetery. Ahmadis started constructing it on March 10, 2012 when Javed Jutt, the president of the local chapter of Sunni Tahrik arrived at the spot and called the police. The SHO came to the site with a heavy contingent and ordered the work to be stopped.
Desecration of graveyard
Dunyapur, District Lodhran; December 4, 2011: Some miscreants entered the Ahmadiyya graveyard here, damaged the graves and broke the tombstones on seven graves.
This graveyard came into being in 1976. It has 29 graves. The sacrilege was reported to the police who recovered broken pieces of the tombstones.
The Ahmadiyya spokesman expressed great concern over the incident and stated that even Ahmadi dead are not being spared maltreatment and insult. “Twenty-nine offensive cases against the dead have happened since the promulgation of the anti-Ahmadiyya ordinance,” he said. Ahmadis of Dunyapur are facing opposition from mullas who keep on harassing them in various ways. This will stop only when the infamous anti-Ahmadiyya laws are removed from the statute book.
The press reported the incident the next day. The Express Tribune of December 5, 2011 filed this story under the heading: For minorities in Pakistan, persecution never ends.
An outrage committed by police
Haveli Majoka, District Sargodha; July 6, 2011: The police went over to the Ahmadiyya graveyard, desecrated and decamped with seven tombstones on the complaint of a mulla.
The law does not specify that an Ahmadi’s tombstone should not bear the Kalima or Quranic verses. The mulla thinks it is implied in the spirit of the law; but so is the case with names of thousands of Ahmadis in Sargodha district.
A video of their outrage is available. It is available in archives as record.
Desecration of an Ahmadiyya graveyard
Masudabad Chak 109, District Faisalabad; March 2011: A contingent of nine policemen went to the village on March 4, 2011 and raided the local Ahmadiyya graveyard. They removed the Ahmadiyya youth from his security duty, and sprayed black paint on Quranic verses written on tombstones.
The society that protests the most against blasphemy indulges in maximum blasphemy where ‘others’ are affected.
Burial problem in District Sialkot
Rasulpur, District Sialkot; February 26, 2011: Mr. Riaz Bhatti, an Ahmadi died in this village. His is the only Ahmadi family in the village, however non-Ahmadi members of his clan lived in harmony with him. At the occasion of his death, they arranged food for the mourners and visitors, and assisted with the burial in the common graveyard.
However, a few mischief mongers from neighbouring villages later agitated over the burial and took the issue to authorities.
The authorities set up a probing committee. A few anti-Ahmadi activists demanded that if the Ahmadis join the mainstream Sunni Islam, they would withdraw their objection to the burial. Ahmadis rejected the proposal.
The police did not disinter the dead body then, but it was learnt that they were considering approaching the DCO to seek approval of the intended exhumation. Although no exhumation took place but it all created a lot of disturbance for the mourners of the deceased.
Burial problem in Badomalhi
Badomalhi, District Narowal: Mr. Muhammad Anwar, Ahmadi died in Badomalhi on March 10, 2011. Ahmadis took his coffin to the common graveyard in the afternoon, offered the funeral prayer and buried him.
Thereafter a few miscreants went to the police station and demanded that the dead body be disinterred and Ahmadis should be arrested and prosecuted. As the SHO was not present in his office, they returned and planned further action.
They sent a threatening message to the bereaved family and conveyed that they would have the Ahmadiyya mosque sealed. They held consultations in various mosques and decided to have a report registered with the police.
The next day they met the SHO who sent for both the parties to present their case. Accordingly, seven representatives of each group attended the meeting. The non-Ahmadis argued that as the Ahmadis had been declared non-Muslims, they hurt their feelings by burying their dead in the Muslims’ graveyard. They also demanded that a criminal case should be registered against Ahmadi elders.
Ahmadis stated that the law does not require them to bury their dead separately, nor the state has provided any land for this purpose. The non-Ahmadis were reading a meaning in the law that was not there.
The SHO felt that the issue was sensitive, so he ‘advised’ Ahmadis not to bury their dead in the common graveyard in future, and approach the authorities for the grant of land for the burial of their dead.
Ahmadis had no option but to agree with the decision. They gave an undertaking that they would not use this graveyard in future, and would make alternate arrangements.
Burial problem in Bhaun
Bhaun, District Chakwal; May 2011: There is only one common graveyard in Bhaun where Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis have buried their dead for years. However, the anti-Ahmadiyya posture of the state has caused problems.
Ms. Hameeda Begum, an Ahmadi old lady died on May 5, 2011. As she was about to be buried, a few non-Ahmadis intervened and blocked the burial. This generated a very unpleasant and ugly situation.
Some senior members of the majority Muslim community decided to allow Ahmadis one more time a burial, but told them to make separate arrangements within a week. “You will not be allowed to bury your dead here any more”, they told the Ahmadis.
Kang Chanan, District Gujrat; June 2011: Mirza Khan, Ahmadi died on June 17, 2011. Mullas attempted serious disturbance at the occasion of his burial. However, this was averted by peaceful and generous moves of the Ahmadis and co-operation of the local population.
Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis have a common graveyard in Kang Chanan. So, Ahmadis dug a grave there to bury Mr. Mirza Khan. Early in the morning, at about 7:30 a.m. a police contingent arrived and inquired if a riot was brewing. The village folk told them that they were not aware of any. The police intimated that they had received an application from a non-resident mulla that there was a threat to law and order over the burial of an Ahmadi. The villagers told the police that they had no problem with the burial, and the mulla was not relevant.
In the meantime another police contingent arrived led by a senior inspector. The inspector was in contact with his superiors on phone. He conveyed his concern over the possibility of a sectarian back lash by mullas from outside. He told the village folk to divide the graveyard among Ahmadis and others.
In view of the police intervention, the two communities divided the graveyard land among themselves. It was done amicably. Ahmadis voluntarily accepted a smaller portion of the land than their due share. Although non-Ahmadis offered that the deceased may be buried in the grave already dug, Ahmadis buried him in their own area to avoid any follow-up attempt at disinterment.
The burial was accomplished peacefully. The village folk condemned the disruptive intervention of the outsider Qari Mazhar Jangi Tarar and his backers. These people did not come to the village, but pulled strings remaining covert.
Chak No. 27 GB, Faisalabad; June 2011: Mrs. Khushi Muhammad, Ahmadi died in Chak No. 27GB North, District Faisalabad. A number of local Muslims were sympathetic; they even joined in the funeral prayers for the deceased. The mulla however did not like that, and later distributed pamphlets stating that the marriage bonds of those who had joined the funeral rites had broken. It was further learnt that the mullas planned to agitate the worshippers in their sermon of the Friday prayer on June 17. The police were informed of this.
The police took appropriate action to maintain peace on that occasion.