Authorities and mullas desecrate an Ahmadiyya graveyard
Lahore: The Site Edition of the Daily Times entered the following report in its issue of April 20, 2007:
Friday, April 20, 2007
Don’t fence your graveyard, police tell Ahmadis
* Ahmadis told to remove wall after clerics oppose ‘mini-Rabwah’
LAHORE: Police has asked the Ahamdiyya Community to demolish by today (Friday) a boundary wall on a piece of land it had bought to extend its cemetery, after threats by local clerics who said it was a move to build a “mini-Rabwah”.
The community had bought six acres of land in the outskirts of Lahore to extend an existing cemetery, but local clerics – allegedly from Sunni Tehrik and Tehrik-e-Tahafaz-e-Naomoos-e-Risalat – began to provoke the residents of the locality to oppose the construction of a boundary wall on the land.
The clerics, Daily Times learnt, also made announcements in local mosques and held a couple of demonstrations.
Instead of protecting the community, the police and the local administration are pressuring it to stop the construction and demolish the part of the wall it had already built.
The community had bought the land from an Ahmadi landlord at a place called Handu Gujjar, seven miles from Shalimar Gardens off the Grand Trunk Road going towards Wagah. No local authority or housing society is prepared to offer them space for a cemetery in Lahore.
Part of the land has been a graveyard for 10 years, while the rest of it was vacant. The community had recently begun building a wall around it.
On April 15, 2007, a group of clerics (not from the locality) began to say they would not allow a “mini-Rabwah” in Handu Gujjar. Residents say the place had earlier been peaceful and there was complete inter-communal harmony.
On April 16, the Mughalpura SP summoned representatives of the Ahmadiyya Community and a group of clerics and told them to come to the Manawan police station to “show their strength” knowing that Ahmadis are a minority.
This mobilised the clerics, who used loudspeakers and mosques to urge people to “unite against Ahmadis”. They were able to gather about 150 clerics and madrassa students the next day, convincing the Ahmadis to abandon the “illegal construction”.
Later, the SP said the clerics now wanted the height of the boundary wall lowered from 6 feet high to 4 feet, with barbed wire on the top. In the evening, a group of clerics delivered more speeches on loudspeakers and consequently, a group of 500 to 600 men gathered to give the Ahmadiyya Community a “10-day ultimatum” to demolish the boundary wall.
The SP then told Ahmadis to either demolish the wall or let the government do it, lest a mob of mullahs demolished it itself, which he said police could not stop.
Two days ago, the Ahmadiyya Community received a notice from the local town authority that the construction was illegal. The police has now asked the community to remove the wall by Friday (today).
Mughalpura SP Dr Rizwan was not available for comment, but the station house officer (Manawan police station) said the police could not do anything to protect Ahmadis from clerics. “Only the media can protect the rights of that community,” he said.
Two days after this report, a large contingent of police arrived at the site at about 05:30, well before sunrise, blocked all entries and demolished the boundary wall of the graveyard. Ahmadis approached the local police station to have a complaint registered, but the SHO refused to oblige.
Following is also relevant to the incident:
1. It was ridiculous for the mulla to suggest that a ‘mini-Rabwah’ was going to be built on 14 acres of graveyard land.
2. The land is in the rural area well outside Lahore. Not a single house in Handu Gujjar has been built on a design approved by the local Council. Authorities used the objection of municipal permission for the wall only as a shield to comply with bullish demand of the mulla.
3. According to the Daily Times of April 23, 2007, “Several religious organizations had put up provocative banners and clerics were giving hate speeches in mosques urging the Muslims to wage a jihad against Ahmadis. The city police did not take action on the hate campaign. … A senior official asking not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue told the Daily Times that the government had decided to raze the wall under pressure from certain elements for the fear that the issue may ignite into a major problem for the government”.
4. Ahmadis’ graves and graveyards have been under threat for years. Twenty-six disinterments of Ahmadi dead are on record all over Pakistan. Extremist elements have dug up Ahmadi graves in the middle of night and left the corpses out in the wildernesses for beasts. The graveyard in Rabwah itself was vandalized, therefore its outer wall had to be raised to nine feet — a photo of the same was included by the UK Parliamentary Human Rights Commission in its Report (January 2007) at page 58.
5. Clerics’ group that led this agitation calls itself Tehrik-e-Tahaffuz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat (The Movement to Protect the Honour of the Prophet). It is obvious that the demolition of the Ahmadiyya graveyard’s outer wall had no relationship to the honour of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). Therefore, the group betrayed its real aim — it is anything but the protection of the honour of the Prophet.
6. The authorities served an ultimatum to Ahmadis, and before the expiry of the given time, proceeded in the wee hour to itself demolish the boundary wall of the graveyard. This speaks volumes of the scare of the mulla to which the government readily succumbed. It is as if the mulla is already ruling the country.
7. The government’s rhetoric on human rights and freedom of religion and belief is nothing but verbosity. The government is very conscious of improving Pakistan’s image abroad. It’s a lost cause as long as the state continues to capitulate before obscurantism. If the state cannot confront the mulla in Handu Gujjar, it will not be able to do so elsewhere. Subsequent events in FATA etc. proved that.
At the time of this outrage the province of the Punjab was ruled by Chaudhry Pervaiz Ilahi of Gujrat the chief minister and Lt General (Retd) Khalid Maqbool, the governor. The incident raised alarm in the civil society.