Mosques under Attack, and Worship Denied (1998 – 2004)

2004

 

Case of the Rabwah Police Post mosque

Ahmadiyya property at Rabwah is usurped by the Government.

Authorities yield to preposterous demands of mullahs.

The police post is shifted back unlawfully to Ahmadiyya–owned land.

It happened on September 6. The daily Jang of September 7, 2004 reported that at the orders of Mr. Pervaiz Elahi the Chief Minister, the police post at Rabwah was shifted back to the old site; this old site is owned by Ahmadis and shifting was done forcibly against the wishes of Ahmadis. This was done in response to the demands of mullahs who, for their own ugly motives, wanted the post at the location owned by Ahmadis who needed the same to meet their community compulsions. The mullah, although not at all directly concerned with the issue was agitating for the preceding one month, and  succeeded when least expected. The case of the police post and its little mosque is typical and shows the working of the mullah and the state at these important times in the turbulent history of Pakistan. One gazes mute before this ocean of darkest ignorance that has already engulfed the society. A narrative of this event must be placed on record in archives.

Briefly, the Police Post in Rabwah was located at a site loaned by the Ahmadiyya Community to the police at latter’s request, more than quarter of a century ago. The post was shifted in July 2004 to another location by mutual consent, and the premises were handed back to Ahmadis. Some years ago, the police constructed, first a platform then a small one-room mosque in the courtyard, without consent of the owners.   On resuming the possession of the site Ahmadis left the mosque intact. Mischief-monger mullahs however fabricated the story of destruction of the mosque, and took up the issue to create a serious law and order situation in the country. Subsequently when everyone saw that the mosque was intact, the mullah started saying that the WCs and water taps had been rendered shaheed (martyrs). They concocted the argument that as a mosque is a house of Allah, it remains a mosque for ever and its status cannot be tampered with or changed under any circumstance – a debatable opinion. They, anyhow, demanded that the mosque be handed over to Muslims for perpetual possession, access and worship, otherwise they threatened to unleash a violent countrywide movement against Ahmadis.

Everyone who had some sense knew that the mullah was standing on legs of clay. There are numerous High Court decisions on record that mosques built without express permission of the owner of the land have no sanctity. The Shariah does not allow usurpation of land for any purpose, let alone for building a mosque. Eventually, perhaps the mullah also realized the weakness of his position, so he changed tack and started demanding that the police post be brought back to the old site. This demand was equally absurd as the police are not supposed to take orders from the mullah as to where they should locate their posts. Anyway, since long the mullah has rarely cared how irrational he appears to the rest of the world; he pushes his own agenda, regardless.

The mullah has learnt that threats of violence work in Pakistan, especially where the authorities’ interest is not directly involved. So the mullah gave the battle-cry and called Muslims to converge on Chenab Nagar (Rabwah) on Friday, 23 July 2004. He used loudspeakers on mosques and issued posters for the call. The administration made no move to deter him from this agitation that could have turned violent. As a result, hundreds of them armed with staffs etc came over. The press reported their number in thousands. According to the daily Nawa-i-Waqt of July 24:

  • Thousands of Muslims arrived in Chenab Nagar in intensely hot weather.
  • All Qadianis businesses remained closed and roads presented a deserted look.
  • ‘Khatme Nabuwwat – Long Live’ slogans were shouted.

The situation was indeed very tense that Friday.

The mullah issued dangerous threats, and the Urdu press volunteered to splash these in big headlines.  A few are quoted below:

1.         If the government does not control the activities and mischief of Qadianis, no Qadiani and their places of worship will be safe in Pakistan. The moths of the lamp of prophethood (Muslims) will completely destroy Mirzais (Ahmadis).

(The Daily Pakistan; July 22, 2004)

2.         If the government does not take due notice of this serious incident, an agitation like that of 1974 will commence.  Maulvi Ilyas Chinioti

(The Daily Pakistan; July 24, 2004)

3.         If the mosque is not recovered, the moths of Khatme Nabuwwat are prepared to sacrifice their lives. The situation can anytime slip out of control of Muslim leaders. Maulvi Ata-ul-Muhaiman Bokhari

(The Daily Jang; July 22, 2004)

The mullah is well aware of benefits of unity and co-operation. He decided to join hands with others in his unsupportable cause. The notorious Majlis Ahrar Islam and Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat solicited support from politico-religious parties, and got it readily. Hafiz Idrees, the Deputy Amir of Jamaat Islami told the press that all efforts will be coordinated. He seemed to care little that the demands were against the provisions of Shariah that the Jamaat Islami had been campaigning for the last half a century in Pakistan. Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi, Advisor on Religious Affairs to Governor of the Punjab also came over to Rabwah. He did not meet any Ahmadi, remained huddled up with mullahs, and made highly improper and indiscreet statements while parading his official status. He appeared to be least bothered about the teaching of the great religion of Islam on such issues. During the visit, he volunteered to state that General Pervez Musharraf and Mr. Shaukat Aziz are both Sunni Muslims. “They are not Mirzais, and both have faith in Khatme Nabuwwat (the end of prophethood)”, he said. (The daily Din, July 24, 2004). This official Advisor to the Governor does not believe that Pakistan belongs to non-Sunnis also. Such is his understanding of the great concept of Enlightened Moderation, propounded by his overlord.

The police were apparently well aware of the essentials of the issue. They knew that the shifting of the post was not only mutually agreed, Ahmadis had co-operated beyond their duty to provide the new location and the building. The little mosque was intact. They also knew that they could not lawfully occupy a site without owner’s consent. The police asked Ahmadis to let their Inspector reside temporarily at the old location to tide over the present difficulties, and Ahmadis had agreed. What more could they ask or expect; so they, in consultation with their superiors, decided to be firm against any violence and agitation of the mullah. After three or four Fridays (these Islamic holy days, otherwise meant for worship, are used by the mullah now in propagating and implementing violence) the situation had been controlled sufficiently to pose no threat to law and order. The agitation had lost steam. It appeared that a reasonable solution had been found that should be acceptable, more and less, to all concerned.

All of a sudden, orders were issued on September 6, 2004 from the provincial capital that the police post was to be shifted to the old location, regardless of the Ahmadiyya ownership of the property. The orders were to be implemented immediately, meticulously, and apparently to the satisfaction of the mullah. So, high police officials contacted Ahmadis late on the same day, and told them to vacate the site. The police set up their signboard and pitched a tent as token of seizure. Having done so by the middle of the night, they reported the completion of the raid to their headquarters at Lahore who reportedly informed their political masters. To crown this inglorious and unnecessary retreat in the face of the mullah, police officials were told to invite mullahs to a briefing where they were to be told that their demands had been met in totality. This was done. According to the daily ‘Khabrain’ of September 8, 2004, the District Police Officer went himself to Chiniot where he met the clerics to convey them the great news; the police entertained the mullahs with sweets (mithai khilai); high officials like the DIG, the SSP and the SP City personally supervised the operation. To add insult to injury (if felt that way), the high police officials were made to report the accomplishment of the unworthy act to the third-line local mullahs namely, Allah Yar Arshad, Muhammad Hussain, Ghulam Mustafa, Yasin Gauhar, Ayub, Ilyas Chinioti etc, who are never heard of except when they indulge in mischief and break the law of the land. Some of these had been earlier charged and arrested for breach of law.

It is relevant to mention here that Chaudhri Shujaat Hussain, the President of the ruling PML (Q) is on record having said that his party and the MMA are natural allies. Mr. Shaukat Aziz, when ‘accused’ of being a Qadiani, had it announced that he was a Sunni and believed in the Khatme Nabuwwat. The Sunni PM was bending backward to prove it. Also relevant is the news that on September 7, 2004 President Musharraf had a 3-1/2 hours long meeting with the Ulema, where according to press reports he sought their support and assured them that there will be no interference in the affairs of madrassahs (The daily Dawn September 8, 2004). Orders to meet mullahs’ demands concerning the police post at Rabwah had been issued and implemented a day earlier.

Before concluding this brief report, we quote below from a High Court decision the Shariah dictate in such cases and ask plenipotentiaries of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan as to on what basis and principle they took the decision that they took, and also as to how far they hope to go sans principles:

“Usurpation is unlawful. Any person knowingly and willfully usurping the property of another is held to be a criminal and a sinner, and therefore he becomes liable for compensation. The object of Islam is peace. By encroachment of the rights of another, peace is disturbed and therefore a sin is committed. Forcible possession is oppression in an extreme form of which there is a strong condemnation both in the Holy Quran and Hadis. A usurper will be hurled down unto seventh earth on the Resurrection Day – 4: 15, 14:12, and he shall be made to bear the burden of earth that he usurped – 14: 295W. A marauder is not a follower of the prophet, and Islam enjoins no compulsion in any action – 1:70. Riot and loot are strictly unlawful -14:3. Prophet even instructed not to take a staff of his brother out of joke.”

………………………………

“If somebody built a mosque on his own share of the land which was a joint property and subsequently it was revealed that a part of it belonged to another shareholder, it would no longer remain a mosque owing to the proprietary nature of the land under it.”

………………………………………….

13.          We find no merit in this appeal which is dismissed with costs.

 

Appeal dismissed

(PLD 1973 Lahore 500)

The design of the lately developed flower called ‘Enlightened Moderation’ looks beautiful but its foul smell and unpleasant reality can only be experienced by a visit to the police post at Rabwah. The incident showed how a mountain of mischief can be built by mullah out of a molehill, with the support from authorities. During these seven weeks Ahmadis of Rabwah were threatened with great risk to their security and human rights. Eventually the government took a decision that has no legal or moral base whatsoever. In fact, it violated all norms of civil society. Shakespeare, the English poet reputed to have a most comprehensive soul, wrote for such occasions: O judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts, and men have lost their reason.  (Julius Caesar, III)

Appendage.            It would be of interest to bring up here and compare the case of Ahmadiyya mosque at Syedwala district Sheikhupura with the case of Police Post mosque. The Ahmadiyya mosque was destroyed by an attacking mob of extremists on August 26, 2001, in the presence of the police. The mob looted useful items like electric fans etc; and destroyed the mosque building. A few hours later, the Superintendent Police arrived from the district headquarters along with a contingent. He took all the Ahmadi men, 28 in number, in his custody and led them to the police station. No police case was registered against the attackers. Since then, the mosque lies in ruins. The government did not have the courtesy or the ‘enlightened moderation’ to rebuild the mosque for Ahmadis; after all, it is the duty of the government to protect places of worship of all its citizens. Ahmadis have asked the government to let them build the mosque at their own expense. The government has refused the permission. It is now more than three years that the ruins of the mosque stand as testimony to the enormity of the crime of the mullah and the utter disregard of authorities for fundamental rights of the Ahmadiyya Community in Pakistan.

 

A severe blow to Ahmadis’ practice of faith

Chak 37, District Sargodha; June 29, 2004: The police acted brutally to discourage Ahmadis build their place of worship in this village, in clear violation of the provisions of the Constitution.

The village Ahmadiyya community had undertaken construction of the new mosque. It had obtained an appropriate order from a court in order to avoid any obstacles.

In the last week of June, an opponent, by the name of Ghumman approached some other court and obtained a stay order to stop the construction. He brought the police along who arrested 5 men at the mosque including two non-Ahmadi laborers. Ahmadi elders tried to contact the police SHO who was not available, so the five men spent the night in police lock-up. The next day the SHO let them free.

On June 1, the SHO sent for the two parties at 5 p.m. He heard their views and asked them to nominate three representatives of each party. Once nominated, the police arrested all the six men under PPC 107/151.

The next day the two parties made peace and a court set them all free. While making peace, the issue of the construction was not taken up. Ahmadis are now wondering how to restart construction.

The incident shows blatant disregard for Ahmadis’ human rights. Non-Ahmadis would not permit them to enter their mosque for worship, and the judiciary and police join hands with Ahmadi-bashers to disallow Ahmadis construct their own place of worship. Where is the freedom to establish a place of worship and practice one’s faith as assured in Article 20 of the Constitution of Pakistan?

 

Forbidden to build a place of worship

Theri, District Sargodha: Someone donated a small plot of land to the local Ahmadiyya community to build for themselves a mosque in the village. They started building a one-room facility for worship. However, the anti-Ahmadiyya elements contacted the police who found it perfectly convenient to order Ahmadis to stop the construction, awaiting formal permission that may never come.

In the meantime, Mullah Toofani (cyclone) of Sargodha got activated, visited the village on hate-mission and delivered a fiery sermon. His language was most provocative, against which some of the audience protested. The mullah replied that he got carried away by his sensitivity to the honor of Islam. He told his audience that ‘the Mirza claimed to be God’ etc. He asked them to swear by the Holy Quran to implement a complete social boycott of Ahmadis. He distributed plenty of the hate-literature that he had brought along from his Khatme Nabuwwat Office in Sargodha.

 

Sacrilege attempted

Nagar Parkar (Sindh): The Ahmadiyya mosque here has the Kalima (Islamic creed) and Darud (Blessings on the Holy Prophet) inscribed in marble on its building. For couple of years, mullahs have been trying hard to get them defaced. The local police paid no attention to them. Then Mullah Hamadi took the lead and their delegation met the SP at Mithi, Mr Mehtab Sheikh. The careerist Sheikh decided to commit the enormity, which his subordinates had successfully avoided for months. He sent for the Ahmadi elders of Nagar, and pressed them to remove the Kalima. Ahmadis refused to undertake the sacrilege. On further pressure, Ahmadis stated that they would not allow any mullah or non-governmental agency to remove the Kalima, however if the government decides to do so officially, Ahmadis will not resist. At this the conscienceless SP told his assistant to tell the DSP Nagar to remove the Kalima. The meeting ended at this point.

On their return to Nagar Parkar, Ahmadis met the local Nazim and told him that the police had decided to undertake the sacrilege. He was surprised and angry. He sent for the local police head and asked him as to what was happening. He told the Nazim that he had received orders to remove the Kalima. The fair Nazim told the policeman that at Nagar the police was subordinate to the Nazim. “I shall never allow you to remove the Kalima”, he said. Then he sent for the mullahs and told them that if they had the audacity, they should remove the Kalima. At this, the mullahs backtracked. Ahmadis met other prominent citizens and told them of the clerics’ and police intentions. They all condemned their unholy moves.

It took great efforts to avoid the evil intended by the clerics to which the senior police official had wrongfully become a party.

 

Damage and arson at Ahmadiyya place of worship

Sahiwal, District Sargodha; December 20, 2004: A two-roomed house at Sahiwal was being used as a place of worship by local Ahmadis for the last quarter of a century. As the house was growing old, Ahmadis undertook replacement of roof of the room that was used for worship. The opponents came to know about the work and approached the Town Committee. The Committee asked Ahmadis to explain. This was scheduled for Monday. So the work continued on Sunday.

The mullahs then approached the police. They sent for both the parties at 2 p.m. on Tuesday the 21st December. The mullahs and their acolytes decided to wait no longer, and took the law in their own hands. Approximately 30 of them armed themselves, assembled and arrived at the site in early hours of the night, demolished the new roof and set fire to the belongings in the adjacent room. Ahmadis informed the police who arrived at leisure.

The Nawa-i-Waqt of Lahore, a leading Urdu daily made a quotable report about the incident in its issue of December 22. It reported that on account of the construction “the people got agitated and having demolished the construction set the place on fire”; it also added, “the police arrived subsequently at the site; however no further unpleasant development took place”. One wonders how would the editors of Nawa-i-Waqt feel if some Indian newspaper had reported the demolition of Babri mosque incident as “the police arrived subsequently at the site; however no further unpleasant development took place”. The police thereafter also claimed some credit in declaring that the issue had been settled and no follow up was required any more. In order to placate the mullah, the Tehsil Nazim stated that he was going to hold his staff accountable for any laxity on their part. Such is the attitude of the authorities in the field to the incident in which Ahmadiyya place of worship is grossly vandalized. However, at the UN, Pakistan urges all nations to promote religious tolerance, understanding and moderation.

P. S. It is relevant to mention that the mullah and authorities have made it well-nigh impossible to build Ahmadi places of worship or to improve them in the country.

 

 

Ahmadiyya place of worship- destroyed at Sahiwal

Ahmadiyya place of worship- destroyed at Sahiwal

 


No freedom of worship

Tatle Aali, district Gujranwala: Ahmadis of Tatle Aali have no mosque to offer their congregational Friday prayers. Some times back they purchased a piece of land and started congregating there for prayers. Fearing refusal to allow building a mosque, they got a plan approved to build a house. The construction started. On August 11, the roof was to be built. But an opponent reported to the police that a mosque was under construction. The police hurriedly ordered Ahmadis to stop the work. Ahmadis subsequently approached an MPA and the police authorities, showed them the approved plan and got the permission to resume construction. However, when the work started, mullahs took out a procession and attacked the construction site. The police intervened again and the work had to be stopped.

Finally, a truce was imposed through authorities that Ahmadis will not use the building for any religious purpose.

Where can the Ahmadis go for worship?

 

Ahmadiyya mosque at Murree Road, Rawalpindi

The government intended to widen the Murree Road, so it issued a notification to that end on 28 June, 2004. Its clause 6, however, stated explicitly that religious buildings and their annexed lands will not be taken over for this purpose. Despite this, the concerned department obtained an order from the court that 16 feet of built-up area of the Ahmadiyya mosque at Murree Road will be taken over. Ahmadis contended that although the ground floor is used as a library of the mosque, the first floor is used by worshipers for formal worship, and the notification clearly stipulates that such buildings and spaces will not be interfered with. Ahmadiyya Community therefore submitted an Intra Court Appeal against the decision. The Chief Justice of Lahore High Court did not entertain the appeal on grounds of court holidays, so the community went to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court directed the concerned department in its order on August 19, 2004 to first attend to the plea. The District Officer (Revenue) rejected Ahmadis’ plea despite the supporting evidence presented to him. The Community has appealed again to the High Court. In the meantime authorities proceeded to demolish the disputed section of the Ahmadiyya mosque.

 

 

2003

Another Ahmadiyya mosque sealed by authorities

Ahmad Nagar, District Jhang:            A mosque was built by Rana Wali Mohammad, an Ahmadi, at his own land, at his own expense, eighteen years ago in Ahmad Nagar, a village near Rabwah. Ahmadis have been using it for worship all along. It is a one-room mosque. With the passage of time it now needed repairs and renovation. Ahmadis undertook this task. Most of the work was complete. While the gate was still to be installed, mullah Ghulam Mustafa, the head priest of a seminary and mosque in the Muslim Colony, Rabwah raised a dispute and applied to the police for intervention. The police and other authorities responded to the mullah’s mischief, but when presented with relevant documents and a no-objection statement from the local non-Ahmadis, found nothing wrong with the Ahmadiyya position. The mullah’s will, however, prevailed, and finally at the orders of the Home Secretary of the Government of Punjab, this Ahmadiyya mosque was sealed on October 23, 2003.

It is relevant to mention that this Home Secretary, Brig. Ejaz Shah is the same official who had ordered forfeiture of Ahmadiyya periodicals and arranged undeserved warning to Ahmadiyya schools at Faisalabad – all on behest of second rank mullahs. It is also possible that he is following some policy directive from his political superiors.

This incident of serious violation of Ahmadis’ fundamental rights was precipitated by the provincial government in the wake of policy statement of the President in the UN General Assembly where he vigorously urged Muslim states to ‘promote moderation, oppose extremism and ensure justice’. It is bizarre that President’s men should wilt so readily and routinely when confronted by second-rate mullahs like Ghulam Mustafa.

 

Police stop Ahmadis’ Friday congregational prayers

Sadullah Pur, District Gujrat; July 25, 2003: There is a sizeable Ahmadiyya Community in the village of Sadullah Pur. They have a spacious mosque where they have been offering congregational prayers for decades. The police arrived on July 25, and for no apparent reason told Ahmadis not to offer their Friday prayers in the mosque. Ahmadis, fearing sealing of their mosque, prayed elsewhere. The next Friday, the police arrived, but did not intervene.

This was a major denial of Ahmadis’ basic human right of ‘freedom of worship’. It is surprising that the state takes it so lightly.

 

Attack and vandalism against an Ahmadiyya mosque

Bhakkar; May 27, 2003:        Four intruders, at about 2 a.m. jumped over the outer wall of the Ahmadiyya mosque, got hold of the caretaker, beat him up and locked him up in a room. The attackers then took away the mosque television set and its receiver with them.

 

Agitation against Ahmadiyya mosque

Chowk Azam, district Leyya: Anti-Ahmadiyya elements mounted an agitation here, and targeted the Ahmadiyya mosque and an Ahmadi policeman. The vernacular press has helped them in this sectarian drive. The daily Ausaf, Multan of November 12, 2003 published a 2-column headline highlighting the demands of the mullahs. The mullah, Abdur Rashid Tahir stated that “they (Qadianis) are openly indulging in prayers… Pakistan’s National Assembly has declared them infidels; they are not allowed to build a mosque similar to those of Muslims, nor can they make a call to prayers… I demand of the administration to demolish the place of worship of Mirzais; if it is not done till Friday, we will take serious note of that, and thus pose a danger to law and order.”

There is another aspect to this agitation as well. At Chowk Azam lives an Ahmadi, Mr Aziz Ahmad who is an employee in the police department (rather an exception). The mullahs cannot put up with that. They are attempting to get him implicated in the unrest, based on his association with the Ahmadiyya mosque. They applied for registration of a criminal case against him, but the police did not oblige. “We shall approach the courts for this purpose”, they said.

 

Freedom of assembly – but not to Ahmadis

Faisalabad: Mullah Faqir Mohammad, Secretary Information of the International Action Committee of the Organization for the Protection of the Finality of Prophethood supports freedom, but only for his own types. Where Ahmadis are concerned, he unabashedly would like to deny even basic freedoms to them. He has a budget to get his views printed in the vernacular press.

The daily Nawa-i-Waqt Lahore of March 19, 2003 provided the Mullah its space to make the following demands to the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister: Ban the consultation assembly of Qadianis in Chenab Nagar scheduled to be held in the last week of March; Break up the various sections and offices called Nazarats in Qadiani headquarters; Continue with the ban imposed upon Qadiani conventions, sports etc since 1984 under the anti-Qadiani Ordinance of 1984, whereby the scheduled convention is also unlawful; etc. He further stated that “the Assembly will be attended by 650 dangerous Qadianis who will approve their annual budget.”

The mullah had the heart to voice such unbecoming demands, and the Nawa-i-Waqt is reactionary enough to propagate them without remorse.

 

Tension in Nabi Sar Road

Nabi Sar Road Sind: The mullahs took up the issue of a local religious gathering of Ahmadis. They demanded that Ahmadis should be completely denied any freedom of religious assembly. They had their demands published in the daily Ummat, Karachi. They also met police officials to solicit their support to suppress Ahmadis. There was tension in the air. However, the law and order situation remained under control.

 

2002

Prisoners of Takht Hazara

On November 11, 2000 a violent mob led by mullahs attacked the Ahmadiyya mosque at Takht Hazara, district Sargodha in the Punjab province. The attacking fanatics, killed five of the Ahmadis present there, damaged various fittings and equipment of the mosque, and then set the place of worship on fire.

The incident was precipitated by a mullah, Athar Shah who was posted there by “The Association for the Protection of Finality of Prophethood,” a fundamentalist organization, with the main object to foment sectarian hatred and trouble against Ahmadis of the village. He formed a gang, damaged Ahmadis’ graves, put up anti-Ahmadiyya posters and boards in streets, delivered slanderous speeches and took out processions to cause great communal tension.

On the day of the incident he led his zealots to the Ahmadiyya mosque, and hurled insults at Ahmadi respected leaders. This violation developed into a major attack by a large mob against Ahmadis who were considerably less in numbers and were unable to defend not only their mosque but also their persons. The lynch mob murdered five of them including their local president and a youth 14 years old. They hit the faces of their victims repeatedly with their axes and even cut their throats. It was not easy to recognize them when their dead bodies were handed back subsequently by the police to their kin. The rioters damaged the mosque extensively and set it on fire. There was no loss of life among the assailants.

The police arrived well after all was over. The authorities proceeded to take action against the attackers, and surprisingly against the unsuccessful defenders too. The state prosecution team, under pressure from Islamist mullahs, presented the case to the court in a manner to accuse the victims simultaneously. The judge sentenced four members of the victimized community to 20 years’ imprisonment (5 years x 4 times, each). He acquitted mullah Athar Shah, who was the agent provocateur of the incident.

An appeal lies now with Lahore High Court against the sentence. The court has given no date of hearing. These prisoners of conscience are in prison for the last 14 months. Their names are given below:

1.         Mr. Abdul Hamid

2.         Mr. Arshad

3.         Mr Khalid Mehmood

4.         Mr Waseem

 

Nazir Ahmad’s ordeal – in prison

Nazir Ahmad, an Ahmadi youth who was barely 17 years old when arrested in 1998 was incarcerated in Hyderabad, and was in 4th year of his imprisonment on the new year eve of 2002. His story is heart-rending. Briefly:

In 1998 a small old mud-built mosque stood in the farmland of Mr. Mustafa Khan, an Ahmadi landlord at Nafisnagar, district Umarkot. It was in use by a few Ahmadi and non-Ahmadi peasants, and was in a dilapidated state. Mr. Khan was requested to rebuild the mosque, to which he agreed after consultation with non-Ahmadi users. Arrangements were made accordingly. The old room was demolished and the rebuilding started. An opponent came to know of this and he saw in it sufficient germs of potential mischief. He reported the activity to a mullah in the town who informed others, and all these started crying hoarse that a mosque had been desecrated and destroyed by Qadianis; the Holy Quran was burnt, etc. Ahmadis hurried to take the authorities in confidence, and informed them that nothing of the kind had happened. Officials were taken to the site and were shown the construction in progress. They seemed satisfied. The mullah, however, was not prepared to let the Ahmadis off the hook so easily. He had already informed his mentors at Karachi who are ever ready to cash a cheque of this kind. The incident at Naukot was a follow up of this. There, a violent mob attacked the Ahmadiyya mosque, set it on fire and damaged it extensively. The defending Ahmadis who could not protect their place of worship, were subsequently arrested by the police, and were made to face many years of criminal prosecution. Extensive publicity was given to what had happened at these two places with plenty of disinformation to incite the ignorant masses in other parts of Sind. The authorities were, from then on, firmly directed by high-ups at Islamabad, where Mr. Tarar resided in the Presidential palace. Further actions were based not on facts of the case but on political exigency. In all, twenty-two Ahmadis, including five from Nafisnagar were charged under religious laws, and their cases were referred to Anti-Terrorist courts. Ahmadis who suffered discrimination, lack of protection, attack on their mosque at Naukot and assault on their persons were now exposed to state-terrorism, in that they were taken to the anti-terrorist courts. None of the attackers and assailants was arrested.

As for the Nafees Nagar case, the police was able to arrest only Mr Nazir Ahmad, a tenant’s son. The Anti-terrorist Court Hyderabad awarded 118 years’ imprisonment to Mr Nazir Ahmad and Mr. Allah Rakha on December 26, 2001. Mr Allah Rakha was absconding, while Mr. Nazir Ahmad remained in prison for blasphemy (defiling the Holy Quran) and religious crimes he did not remotely commit. Later, on appeal to the Sind High Court, the ATA Court reduced the punishment to half. The innocent young man was still faced with a life term in prison.

It is relevant to mention that Nazir was a decent young man at the time of his arrest. He helped his father on the land to carve a living for the poor family. Prior to this fateful incident, he had never been inside a court-room nor even to a police station.

Mr. Ardsher Cowasjee, writer of the flagship column in the daily DAWN, took note of his plight and mentioned him in his topical and commendable article, in the issue of Sunday the 12th May, 2002.

He was acquitted by the High Court on 23 May 2002. He had spent 3 years, eight months and 21 days in prison for a crime he did not commit. The entire episode was fabricated and deliberate religious persecution perpetrated with collusion of the religious and political establishment.

 

No place to worship for Ahmadis

Kotli, Azad Kashmir: Ahmadi residents of Bandial Colony have no place to worship and have to travel 10 kilometers to Kotli to offer prayers in a mosque. So they collected contributions and decided to construct a mosque. The plot was offered by Mr Sher Muhammad, an Ahmadi, from his personal property. Ahmadis took initial steps to start constructing the house of God.

Opponents came to know about it and they rushed to the police station and the forest magistrate, where they found great sympathy for their cause. The magistrate immediately issued a stay order in favour of protestors, while the police station Kotli registered a criminal case under FIR No 104/02 on 10 May 2002 under PPC sections 447, 188, 298 B(4) and 34, against four Ahmadis, and proceeded to arrest them. Mr Sher Mohammad was arrested and put in police lock-up, while other Ahmadis had to flee to avoid arrest. Mr Sher Mohammad was later released on bail. Other Ahmadis also applied for bail.

That is the kind of freedom Ahmadis have in Azad (Free) Kashmir to practice their religion.

 

Bull’s eye at the Ahmadiyya mosque

Lahore: According to press reports, arrested terrorists admitted to the police that they had plans to bomb the central Ahmadiyya mosque at Lahore (The Daily Khabrain, August 19, 2002). They had transported and stocked heavy load of explosive material and firearms at Lahore to implement their plan. On discovery, the police took charge of the explosives. These terrorists had escaped after their attacks on Christian properties at Murree and Taxila. Earlier they had participated and played a leading role in the so-called Afghan ‘Jehad’, according to a police official.

 

Worship resented

Baghbanpura, Lahore:          A few Ahmadis of Begumpura in Baghbanpura offered their congregational daily prayers at their local centre. Their numbers were in single figure. At prayer time, they use no loudspeaker, no speeches, etc, still the opposition did not tolerate even a silent prayer congregation of Ahmadis. They informed the police who arrived in force to investigate. Ahmadis promised the police their co-operation and offered that the police may like to observe themselves that Ahmadis’ prayers should cause no offence to any body.

 

Charged under criminal law for building a house of worship

Kotli, Azad Kashmir: Ahmadis of Bandial Colony have no place for worship. They had to go to Kotli, 10 Kilometers away to offer prayers in a mosque. So they started construction of a mosque on their own land. The opposition approached the police who not only stopped the construction but also registered a criminal case against four Ahmadis and arrested Mr Sher Mohammad. This happened in May this year.

 

Authorities’ Apathy towards restoration of the Ahmadiyya mosque destroyed by miscreants

Syedwala, District Sheikhupura; A mob of extremists led by mullahs destroyed the local Ahmadiyya mosque here last year on the August 26/27 night, 2001. These miscreants belonged to the Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat organization and now-defunct Jaish Muhammad and Lashkar Taiba factions. In this Land of the Pure, the Ahmadis remain deprived of the only place of worship they had.

More than a year later, the authorities have neither restored the mosque, nor they have  permitted Ahmadis to undertake reconstruction and restoration. The local Ahmadis sent an application to the President of Pakistan with a copy to the provincial governor, the Inspector General Police, the brigadier incharge of the Army Monitoring Cell, the Superintendent Police, the District Nazim etc. Two pictures of the vandalized mosque are placed here.

The President’s office did not respond, nor even acknowledged the receipt of the victims’ application.

 

The plight of an octogenarian

District Leyya: Mr Abdul Majid, president of the local Ahmadiyya Community in village Chak 93/TDA is in prison for the last 20 months under the accusation of building a minaret and a niche in the local Ahmadiyya mosque. In Pakistan, there are hundreds of Ahmadiyya mosques that have minarets and niche. The law does not forbid Ahmadis to have a minaret and niche in their mosque. Mr. Majid informed the court that the reported minaret and niche were built decades ago, still the authorities keep him behind bars. He was arrested in April, 2001. His plea for release on bail was rejected even by the High Court. His case is pending before the Civil Judge at Leyya. Mr. Abdul Majid was charged under PPC 295B in this ‘No case’ and faces life imprisonment. It is relevant to mention that while mullahs are the accusers, the state is the prosecutor that opposed the release on bail of this old man.

The venerable gentlemen is close to 80 years of age. This is the treatment he gets from a regime that claims to be liberal and conscious of human rights. Early in the year, Mr Khalid Ranjha, who later became the Federal Minister of Law, stated that Pakistan is a paradise for minorities!

 

2001

Harassment – en masse

A violent mob attacked the Ahmadiyya Mosque at Takht Hazara, district Sargodha on November 10, 2000. There were only a few Ahmadi defenders at the site to defend their mosque. They tried to defend it, but were not successful. The attackers vastly outnumbered Ahmadis. They damaged the mosque and killed five Ahmadis within the premises. There was no loss of life on their side.

The police, strangely enough, implicated thirty six local Ahmadis in the case, and charged them under various sections of the law including the Ahmadi-specific clause 298C.

 

Mosque destroyed in the presence of police
at Syedwala, District Sheikhupura

In a very serious incident, Ahmadiyya community at Syedwala village suffered great loss and tremendous harassment at the hands of extremist elements and the authorities. Their mosque was destroyed by the attacking mob on August 26, 2001, and the police detained the victims. A brief narrative of the incident is given below.

On the evening of Sunday, August 26, Ahmadi men and women of the village assembled in their local mosque to watch the address of their Khalifatul Masih IV, the Supreme Head of the Community, that was to be aired live on MTA television from Germany through satellite transmission. At that time, the police arrived and told them of the impeding danger from a group of fundamentalists, and directed them to vacate the mosque. Accordingly, women were asked to leave and assemble at Mr. Basharat`s house, while men shifted to Mr. Munawar`s house. Soon afterwards, violent and incendiary announcements were heard from loud speakers of non-Ahmadiyya mosques. As a result, a violent mob assembled and attacked the Ahmadiyya mosque. They looted useful items like electric fans etc; and destroyed the mosque building.

Thereafter, the mob encircled the two houses where Ahmadi women and men had taken refuge. A sympathetic non-Ahmadi neighbor persuaded the mob not to enter the house when some tried to jump in via the roof. All this happened in the presence of a few policemen.

A few hours later, the Superintendent Police arrived from the district headquarters along with a contingent. He took all the Ahmadi men, 28 in number, in his custody and led them to the police station. Announcements were made from loud speakers of local mosques by mullahs that the police had detained some of their men. Mullahs gave an ultimatum to the police that if their men were not released by mid-day, they would take the next action. The next day, army authorities intervened and directed the police to arrange a peace agreement. The police sent for the mullahs twice but they refused to come to the table. Mullahs insisted that criminal cases be first registered against Ahmadis. For what, one might ask. In the meantime, 28 Ahmadis remained in the custody of police. The situation remained volatile for a few days before it settled down at the cost of Ahmadis.

 

The police demolished the niche
at Chobara, District Leyya

Ahmadiyya Community at Chobara constructed its mosque and community center in 1998. Six moths ago the community undertook improvements and some additions to the building. Ahmadis took care to build four walls around the property to avoid undue public interest. Mullas of Sipah Sahaba, however, came to know about it and decided to make it an issue and started an agitation. They contacted the construction workers, and they stopped working at the site. Subsequently, Ahmadis persuaded some masons from another town, assured them protection, and continued the construction work. Mullas stepped up their opposition and invited extremist elements of Jamaat Islami and Dawat Islami to join the agitation. They arranged a public conference on 19 January 2001 and passed three resolutions to the following effect:

  1. Ahmadis should demolish the niche of their mosque.
  2. Ahmadi male and female teachers from the local schools should be transferred.
  3. Authorities should take action against Mian Mohammad (an Ahmadi).

The next day, the police SHO sent for Ahmadi elders, treated them harshly and informed them of mullas’ demands. Ahmadis therefore became still more cautious, but the agitation continued. On February 4, a mulla accompanied by a few hooligans came to the site and was observed to examine the Ahmadiyya property inquiringly. When questioned as to his business, he told a lie that he was interested in buying a plot of land in the vicinity. Fearing criminal intervention, Mian Mohammad, an Ahmadi elder, informed the police.

The next day the police sent for two leading Ahmadis. At the police station, they were made to confront the mullas. The police, without legal justification, told Ahmadis to demolish the niche. Ahmadis conveyed that they would never undertake the sacrilege and will not permit the mulla to do the same; however if the authorities do that, Ahmadis had no intention to confront the government. At this, the police detained the two Ahmadis present, Mian Mohammad Joya and Mr. Nasrullah Khan Mallhi, and the two mullas, in a ridiculous show of misplaced even-handedness. The detainees were sent to Leyya prison from where they were released thirty hours later.

The next day, on February 6, the police visited the site again, inspected the mosque and advised Ahmadis to raise the boundary wall still higher to conceal the niche.

During the next few days, the administration watched the situation. The mullas organized an open conference on February 13. This was sufficient to scare the authorities who took the usual decision of depriving Ahmadis of their fundamental rights and pleasing the mulla. The assistant commissioner, Maqbul Ahmad Langah, in consultation with Laal Mohammad Chohan, the DC and Mohammad Tahir the SSP, decided upon a line of action and sent for Ahmadi elders. In the office, the AC compelled Mr. Mian Mohammad to sign a statement that he would demolish the niche by the evening or face arrest. When, despite severe pressure from the unworthy administration, the Ahmadi took no action till midnight, the police accompanied by some mullas themselves undertook the shameful sacrilege and demolished the niche of the Ahmadiyya mosque. At the time of the shocking action, a son of Mian Mohammad appeared at the site. He was arrested and was detained at the police station for the whole day. All this was done in open violation of law and basic human rights of  peaceful Ahmadiyya Community. It was a serious infringement of freedom of religion and shows callous disregard towards religious sentiments of a marginalized community.

 

Sacrilege ordered by an Assistant Commissioner
at Chawinda, District Sialkot

At the orders of the Assistant Commissioner, a police contingent raided an Ahmadiyya Mosque here and demolished its niche on May 12, 2001. Apart from being shameful, it was also an illegal act, as the law does not forbid building of a niche in Ahmadiyya mosques. Essential details are given below.

Malik Muhammad Yousaf, an Ahmadi from Chawinda, owns a small rice mill a few miles away at Hadiana Road. A few weeks ago, he built a mosque at that location. Mullas came to know about it, and one of them, Qari Ansar wrote an application to the A.C. Pasrur that its niche should be demolished and action should be taken against the Ahmadis. Qari Shafiq Dogar, a mulla of the notorious Sipah Sahaba, also wrote a similar application. The compliant A.C. ordered an inquiry, and the Resident Magistrate ordered Ahmadis to demolish the niche. As the order was illegal and baseless, Ahmadis refused to carry it out. At this, the A.C. ordered the police inspector to undertake the sacrilege. The inspector arrived at the site with a contingent and urged the president of the local Ahmadiyya community to demolish the niche, but he also refused. At this time he received a wireless call from the A.C. who inquired about the progress. The inspector told him that the job had been done. He was given a “well done” by the A.C.; although the recalcitrant police inspector had not yet mustered enough courage and shamelessness to undertake the sacrilege. Mullas, however, kept their vigil and maintained pressure on the A.C. who reprimanded the police S.H.O. and told him to expedite the given task. In order to save his job, the S.H.O. revisited the site at about 11 P.M. and had the niche demolished. It is ironic that even this compliance could not save him, as according to a press report published in the daily Pakistan of May 15, 2001, he was removed from his assignment and made to report to the barracks.

When the police party was busy in the sacrilege, Ahmadis prepared a video movie of the proceedings. The policemen continued to curse mullas who made them undertake such shameful acts.

Ahmadis felt grievously hurt, but maintained their calm at this highly provocative action by the authorities.

 

Authorities seal Ahmadiyya mosque
at Bhakhu Bhatti, District Sialkot

The mosque at Bhakku Bhatti was built almost 75 years ago and was used jointly by Ahmadis and non-Ahmadi till 1940. In 1940, non-Ahmadis built their mosque in the adjacent, plot, and the two denominations offered their prayers in their own mosques till recently. On September 2, 2000 a miscreant mulla occupied the Ahmadiyya mosque, it gave rise to an ugly situation. A few days later, the police and the Resident Magistrate held an inquiry, and consequently handed over the mosque to Ahmadis. In January 2001, however, the Assistant Commissioner Pasrur ordered the Ahmadiyya mosque sealed. He did so on behalf of the fanatic mulla.

 

Police wipes Kalima (Islamic creed) off the Ahmadiyya mosque
at Chur Mughlian, District Sheikhupura

Ahmadis of village Chur Mughlian had their mosque white washed and had the Islamic creed written on the front. Their opponents informed the police and demanded that the same be removed. It is relevant to mention that the letter of the law does not forbid Ahmadis to write their creed on their places of worship. Still, the police sent for Ahmadi elders of the village and ordered them to remove the Kalima (Islamic creed), or face police action. Ahmadis refused to comply. Subsequently the police raided the mosque on Friday, March 9, 2001 in the early hours of the night and wiped off the Kalima. Such is the much-trumpeted freedom of religion to Ahmadis in Pakistan.

 

Administration complies with extremists’ demands
at Sillanwali, District Sargodha

Ahmadis of Sillanwali built two rooms within the premises of their mosque, as lodging for the Imam. Their opponents approached the Assistant Commissioner to deny Ahmadis the facility. He obliged the extremists by issuing the order that the rooms be sealed. The police complied. This wrong was committed in August  2001.

 

A baseless case – Ahmadis arrested

Chak 93/TDA, District Leyya; April 24, 2001: On behest of mullas, the administration registered a criminal case on April 24 against four Ahmadis for having a minaret and niche in the Ahmadiyya mosque at Chak 93, and also for keeping copies of the Holy Quran in the mosque. The case was registered under the PPC 295A, cognizable under the bad Anti-terrorism Act. The Blasphemy clause PPC 295B (defiling the Quran) was also applied, as also PPC 298B from the Anti-Ahmadiyya laws. Messers Abdul Majeed, Shaukat Ali, Anwar Ahmad and the local Ahmadi religious teacher were named in the FIR. Under the clauses applied, the accused can get life imprisonment in a quick trial. Mr Abdul Majeed and Mr. Shaukat Ali were arrested.

This case is another one in the unending series of such senseless cases, in which Ahmadis are implicated to be tried under the Anti-terrorism Act and the Blasphemy Law, although they committed no act of terrorism nor defiled anything by a long shot. The case is false, and was fabricated in collaboration with government officials. There is a known background to this serious development.

Mullas of various religious organizations started, at the beginning of the year, an agitation against Ahmadis in District Leyya. In this, they got co-operation and support from the local administration. In February, at the orders of Laal Mohammad, the Deputy Commissioner and Maqbool Langah the Assistant Commissioner, the police demolished the niche of the Ahmadiyya mosque at Chobara and arrested local Ahmadiyya leaders. These short-sighted officials thought that by acceding to mullas’ demands at Chobara, they would have peace. They did not realize that this way they would only encourage the extremists to ask for more of the same. Subsequent to the police action in Chobara, mullas held a conference at Chak 368/TDA and demanded that Ahmadiyya mosque there should be also demolished and Ahmadis arrested. Thereafter, they went to Chak 375/T.D.A. and made the same demands. Sipah Sahaba then established a branch at Chak 93/TDA and held a Khatame Nabuwwat Conference there and incited people to violence. They sent another application to Laal Muhammad, the Deputy Commissioner and made a number of anti-Ahmadiyya demands including one that Ahmadis be forbidden to call Azan (call to prayers), although Ahmadis, under compulsion of law, did not call Azan; the demand was based on a lie.

Eventually, the extremists and the authorities got their act together again, and struck against innocent Ahmadis of Chak 93/TDA. Although eight months have passed, yet Mr Abdul Majeed, the President of the Ahmadiyya Community remains in a lock-up, and has not been granted release on bail.

 

2000

 

Mosques targeted

Authors of Ordinance XX brought Ahmadiyya mosques specifically in the ambit of the notorious law. The law prohibits Ahmadis to call their mosque a ‘Masjid’ (Arabic for mosque). Religious extremists have made a broad sweep in interpretation of this clause and tend to violate the sanctity of Ahmadiyya mosques by any means. Obviously, their actions touch Ahmadis’ sensitivities to the core and cause them great mental and emotional hurt. Following incidents would show the gravity of this problem.

 

Badin: An Ahmadiyya mosque existed in Goth of Subedar Chandio in District Badin. Heavy rainfalls caused it extensive damage. Ahmadis started its reconstruction. They built half of it and ran short of funds. Later, when they restarted building, the Assistant Commissioner came to know of it. He arrived at the location and had it demolished. This ignoble undertaking happened at the end of 1999. It is noteworthy that a state official supervised the outrage.

 

Liaquatpur, district Rahim Yar Khan: Mr. Muhammad Sadiq, Ahmadi, owns a PSO gas station at Liaquatpur. He built a mosque at the station in 1994, for the facility of transiting drivers. It was open to all for worship, regardless of their creed and denomination. Six years later, mullas decided to move against this house of God in the Islamic Republic. The Assistant Commissioner conveyed that he would consider the issue; whatever that meant. Mullas, however, decided to snatch the initiative from the feeble Assistant Commissioner and announced in a press conference on July 25 that they would demolish the mosque on 28th July in any case.

The AC sent for the two parties. Under duress, Mr Sadiq had to agree that he had no objection to pulling down of the mosque in the prevailing circumstances. Armed with this chit, the panicky police and the shaky AC sent their personnel to demolish the mosque. Mullas and the Administration thus implemented their version of Islam in the Year 2000 that the Government of Pakistan had declared the Year of Human Rights and Dignity.

Merajke, District Sialkot: The mosque at Merajke was built almost a century ago by someone who was an Ahmadi Muslim. Among his descendants, some continued as members of the Ahmadiyya Community, while some did not. The mosque, however, remained in the possession and use of Ahmadis during the last 100 years. Now, that elections to the local councils were expected later this year, one, Malik Haq Nawaz, a non-Ahmadi from the same family, became active to hobnob with mullas of Sipah Sahaba and started working towards taking possession of the mosque. He and the mullas contacted the Resident Magistrate. The RM visited the village twice. During his visit mullas put up a show of religious agitation and political strength. Some of the militants present at the occasion told the magistrate that they could take possession of the mosque by force if necessary. The intimidated magistrate decided ex parte in favour of non-Ahmadis, took the keys and handed over the mosque in August 2000 to them regardless of the fact that this mosque had remained in Ahmadiyya possession for almost a hundred years.

 

Bhakoo Bhatti, district Sialkot: One of the mosques here was in possession and use of the Ahmadiyya Community for the last almost half a century. A non-Ahmadi laid claim to it, and a mulla locked the mosque. The police were informed. The SHO police came, made the required inquiries, had the lock opened, and restored the mosque to Ahmadis. Later, other officials also visited the site, and the mosque remained with Ahmadis. However, mullas maintained the pressure and the agitation till they got what they demanded. The Assistant Commissioner ordered the mosque sealed, and Ahmadis lost still another mosque.

Golarchi, District Badin: The mosque that was being used by Ahmadis for worship was handed over to non-Ahmadis by the authorities, in the presence of a heavy contingent of armed police on 21 October, 2000. They washed the mosque for the purpose of cleansing it before offering prayers therein. According to the latest reports, two Islamist groups are now locked into a dispute regarding its ownership.

 

Sialkot Cantt: The Ahmadiyya mosque and the Imam’s house here had been demolished and were under construction for enlargement. Its plan had been formally approved by the Cantonment Board. On November 16, 2000 the Khatame Nabuwwat activists put up banners:

“ Stop the construction”; “Demolish the constriction” etc. The Station Commander was informed. At his orders, the authorities intervened and it was mutually agreed that a minaret and niche will not be constructed, nor the place will be called a ‘masjid’.

However, later on, the extremists filed a suit in the court demanding that the construction be stopped and the building be demolished. They managed to obtain a Stay Order.

So much for the freedom of faith to all!

 

Faisalabad: The authorities sealed the Ahmadiyya prayer center in Khyaban Colony, to oblige local mullas. This happened two and half months after the military had taken over the administration of the country and assured the whole world that human rights of all sections of the society would be respected. Normally fundamentalists agitate against minarets and niche in Ahmadiyya mosques, but this prayer center had no minaret and no niche, still the authorities sealed the center. Obviously, the mulla and authorities have no scruples; they only want to deny the freedom of faith to Ahmadis. The nearest Ahmadiyya mosque to this locality is eight kilometers away.

 

Mangat Unche, District Hafizabad: At the demand of local mullas, the police itself had the dishonour and discredit of defacing the Ahmadiyya mosque. The policemen came, hammered and broke to pieces the marble slab on which the Kalima (Islamic creed) was written. One could see that when a state bows down to mulla, it invites ignominy and disgrace upon itself.

 

Dastgir, Karachi: In October, A Sub-Divisional Magistrate and a Deputy Superintendent Police accompanied by a police party arrived at the Ahmadiyya mosque. They took possession of the Kalima (Islamic creed) board and carried it away. Obviously they acted in response to some mullas’ demand. Such behaviour of authorities, in the cosmopolitan city like Karachi reflects very poorly on the attitude of the city administration and the provincial government.

 

Haroonabad, District Bahawalnagar: On January 31, 2000, Mahmood Ahmad Cheema, Civil Judge awarded two years’ imprisonment sentence to Mr. Ataullah Warraich, Ahmadi of Chak 11/F.W. under the anti-Ahmadiyya section PPC 298B for building a niche and minaret in an Ahmadiyya Mosque. The law does not prescribe this penalty.

 

Chak 17, District Sheikhupura: During August 2000, ten anti-Ahmadi activists arrived at the local Ahmadiyya mosque at about 9 p.m. and told Ahmadi worshipers that they intended to wipe off the Kalima (Islamic creed) from the façade of the Ahmadiyya mosque. Ahmadis told them firmly that they dare not do so. The visitors threatened to approach the authorities, and left. Ahmadis contacted the authorities during the next few days and asked them to protect the Ahmadiyya place of worship. Instead, the police arrived at about 10 p.m; took control of the mosque and removed the Kalima (Islamic creed) themselves. Unbelievable!

 

Chak 100, district Faisalabad: The local Ahmadiyya mosque was constructed 30 years ago. As it was in a dilapidated state, Ahmadis demolished it and started constructing the new building. At this the Assistant Commissioner Jaranwala intervened and the police told Ahmadis to stop the construction. This is blatant intervention in fundamental rights. It happened in the month of December.

 

Chak 6/11L, district Sahiwal: At the instance of extremist religious elements, the authorities arranged effacing of holy words Allah and Muhammad from the local Ahmadiyya mosque .

Chak 381, Layya: Mr Azam, an Ahmadi of the village, has built a mosque on his land. Someone reported the construction to the police. The police visited the site, and unlawfully ordered the Ahmadi to demolish its minaret.

 

District Okara: An Ahmadiyya mosque is located at L-Plot since long. Extremist religious elements started an agitation, demanding that the niche of the mosque be dismantled. The Resident Magistrate Renala Khurd summoned Mr Zafar Iqbal, Ahmadi, to explain. An Ahmadi delegation met the RM and told him that the law of the land does not forbid Ahmadis to build a niche in their places of worship. The magistrate, however, insisted that in view of the unrest created by the mulla, Ahmadis should dismantle the niche. Ahmadis would not undertake the sacrilege. Later, the Ahmadi delegation called on the Colonel Incharge of the Army Monitoring Cell. He promised nothing and conveyed that he would talk to the Deputy Commissioner.

Subsequently the Resident Magistrate issued a notice that the niche should be demolished. The situation was conveyed to the DC, the SP, and the SHO; the AC Okara was also contacted personally.

The situation remained tense for weeks and caused great concern among the local Ahmadiyya Community.

 

Khairpur: Mullah Mohammad Siddique, the prayer leader at Bokhari Mosque, Gambit sent an application to the Police, with copies to the Governor, Home Secretary, the DC, the Superintendent Police Khairpur etc, stating that Qadianis, in rebellion against the Constitution of Pakistan, have built mosques at Goth Sultan Ali, Goth Cheema and Goth Nathey Khan; these should be demolished by the authorities by August 11, otherwise activists of Majlis Khatame Nabuwwat will themselves destroy these mosques. The mulla warned the authorities not to interfere with the activities of these Mujahidin, as in case of bloodshed, the authorities themselves will be held responsible. Copies of this notice and warning were distributed in public by the mullas.

Ahmadis contacted the Home Secretary and told him that these mosques are not newly constructed as implied by the mulla; in fact these are more than 30 years old. The one at Goth Nathey Khan was built in 1935.

In consultation with authorities, Ahmadis agreed that enclosures be built around the minarets and niches of the mosques. Authorities failed to muster sufficient courage to proceed against the mulla.

 

District Nowshero Feroz (Sind): The village, Goth Imam Bux Alavi has its Ahmadiyya mosque. The mullas are agitating against the niche in the mosque, even though it is not visible from outside. Mullas have also demanded removal of the Holy Quran from the mosque. This  generated a great deal of tension in the village life.

 

Kot Rasulpur Fazal, Distt. Okara: Ahmadis have their own mosque and community house at this town. On June 25, two locals, carrying a camera arrived at this house in dark hours and knocked at the door. Mr Jamil, the resident Ahmadi religious teacher opened the door and asked them their business. The two wanted to make a forced entry and take photographs of the interior. Jamil stopped them and told them that there was nothing objectionable inside. At their insistence, he let them come in and see for themselves. They were shown all the rooms. The intruders wanted to take away a picture of the Holy Kaaba (at Mecca) and some Ahmadiyya literature, and wanted to take photographs. They were not permitted to do that.

It seems they had come with evil intentions, however their mischief did not bear any fruit.

 

No freedom of faith

Ahmadiyya Community at Liaquatpur, District Rahim Yar Khan acquired a plot last year for community purposes and had it registered in the name of the community president, Mr Abdul Karim. In July, mullas and locals approached the administration with the complaint that Ahmadis intended to build a mosque at the site. The mullas stated that Ahmadis would pray, recite the Quran and offer Friday prayers there like other Muslims while they are not so allowed under the law. The administration finally gave the verdict that the construction may be undertaken by Ahmadis under the supervision of authorities and the local population, provided they would not use the location for any religious purpose. Ahmadis had no choice but to stop the construction.

 

1999

Baddomalhi, District Narowal

Early this year, the mullas of Baddomalhi targeted the Kalima (Islamic creed) written on the façade of the local Ahmadiyya Mosque. They took the plea that it hurts their feelings to find the Islamic Creed on an Ahmadiyya mosque. It may be mentioned here that Ahmadis have no other creed than the same Kalima.

The mullas approached the authorities to help remove the kalima. The authorities obliged them by undertaking the impious act upon themselves. Accordingly, on 13 January 1999 the SHO arrived with a police contingent and a laborer, and removed the Kalima with a chisel and hammer. The incident had a traumatic effect on some of the Ahmadis who were very seriously grieved to see the desecration undertaken by authorities. An Ahmadi, Mr. Abbas Kazmi, could not bear the gravity of the sacrilege and fainted. The entire Ahmadiyya Community was terribly hurt and bore the injury with fortitude and restraint.

The incident reminded one of the dark and evil days of Zia regime. The political progeny of the General was now trying to accomplish the unfinished agenda of the dictator.

 

Naseerabad, Larkana (Sindh)

Sub Divisional Magistrate ordered the Ahmadiyya Mosque sealed on July 30.

Subsequent to a demand of local mullas, the SDM visited the Ahmadiyya mosque on June 30, along with a DSP and a police contingent. He inspected the inside of the mosque and asked various questions. He even objected to the keeping of the Quran in the mosque and remarked maliciously that it is an offense for an Ahmadi to study the Holy Quran. It is not.

Independently, or in coordination with authorities, mullas maintained their pressure to pursue their goal. They threatened to take out processions from three different mosques after the Friday Prayers on July 30, 1999. Rather than tackling the mulla according to the law, the SDM found it permissive and more convenient to deny basic human rights and freedom of religious practice to Ahmadis. He ordered sealing of the mosque.

The incident deeply hurt the Ahmadiyya Community and they wondered what freedom of faith, if any, they are left with, as guaranteed in the Constitution of Pakistan.

Earlier on July 4, 1994, the Sub Divisional Magistrate, Wara had sent for the President of the local Ahmadiyya Community and told him:

  1. “to remove the Holy Quran from the Ahmadiyya Mosque
  2. to remove Ahmadiyya literature as well
  3. to rub off the Kalima written inside the mosque
  4. to fill up the internal niche in the mosque with bricks, as it is considered objectionable by Maulvis. If you do not comply, we shall ourselves do the needful.”

 

One wonders if the SDM is an employee of the Mulla or of the State. He found it more convenient to appease the clerics rather than uphold the freedom of faith guaranteed in the Constitution. Even the notorious Ordinance XX does not require him to make the above demands.

Less than a month later, the authorities sealed the mosque.

 

Hasilpur, District Bahawalpur

A few mullas from Multan and Bahawalpur, along with a magistrate and a police party arrived at Chak 192 on April 18, and demanded that minarets and dome of the under-construction Ahmadiyya Mosque be pulled down. Having conveyed this demand, one week later, a gang of 18 mullas came to the village and declared that they will undertake Jihad and pull down the minarets themselves. Ahmadis boldly told them not to dare undertake this kind of Jihad.

At this, the mullas went back to Hasilpur and invoked the support of the authorities. They returned escorted by a magistrate and the police. As a result of pressure from the authorities, Ahmadis offered not to resist covering of the minarets and the niche. Thus peace was restored at the expense of the minority. It is noteworthy that the non-Ahmadi residents of the village refused to support the visiting mullas, and declared that they do not object to the minarets etc.

 

Opponents of Ahmadiyyat in Klaswala, District Sialkot

Opponents here had taken to regular harassment and mischief against the local Ahmadis for weeks. They held meetings, made demands and issued threats. They demanded that the Kalima (Islamic creed) inscribed in marble outside the Ahmadiyya mosque is removed.

Eventually the Resident Magistrate arrived at about 11 p.m. on May 4, 1999 accompanied by one of the Khatame Nabuwwat types and told him to go up the ladder and remove the Kalima. Ahmadis present at the scene protested against this and urged that only some official may undertake this act in his official capacity. The magistrate then ordered a policeman to do the needful who complied. Ahmadis asked for the plaque but the magistrate refused and took away the ill-gotten spoil along with him.

 

Chishtian, district Bahawalnagar

At the orders of Mr Baqa Muhammad, EAC, Magistrate, Chishtian the police raided the Ahmadiyya mosque, sealed it and registered a criminal case under PPC 298B against Mr. Ataullah, the President of the local Ahmadiyya community on September 8, 1999. The Police FIR mentions that the police found that the Ahmadiyya place of worship was constructed like a mosque; it had minaret, a crown and a niche; Ahmadiyya books and a copy of the Holy Quran were also found there, and these were impounded. Mr. Ataullah Waraich, the local president was arrested subsequently. His plea for bail was rejected even by the Sessions Judge.

 

Faisalabad

The authorities sealed the Ahmadiyya prayer center in Khyaban Colony, to oblige local mullas. This happened two and half months after the military had taken over the administration of the country and assured the whole world that human rights of all sections of the society would be respected. Normally fundamentalists agitate against minarets and niche in Ahmadiyya mosques, but this prayer center had no minaret and niche, still the authorities sealed the center. Obviously, the mulla and authorities have no scruples; they only want to deny the freedom of faith to Ahmadis. The nearest Ahmadiyya mosque to this locality is eight kilometers away.

 

Shergarh, District D.G. Khan

The Ahmadiyya Mosque at Shergarh was sealed by authorities in 1986 when anti-Ahmadiyya agitators created a law and order situation at the time of the death of Sardar Qaisrani, a local tribal chief who was an Ahmadi. The authorities gave a decision 13 years later, in 1999, to hand the mosque over to non-Ahmadis.

 

Qila Kallarwala, District Sialkot

Ahmadis built a new mosque at Qila Kallarwala. Mullas could not tolerate the construction of an Ahmadiyya mosque. They started an agitation and made threatening moves to scare the authorities. They demanded that minarets and the niche should be demolished and the local Ahmadi community officials should be arrested. The situation became very tense in October. The administration refused to assert itself. It rather urged the Ahmadis to yield and cover the minarets and the niche. In the interest of peace, Ahmadis agreed to meet the unfair demand. The incident however was an ominous attack on Ahmadis’ basic human right – the freedom of faith.

 

Bhitai Colony, Karachi

During the holy month of Ramadan, (January 1999) local Ahmadis decided to assemble at an Ahmadi’s residence for congregational prayers in Bhitai Colony. A few mullas came to know of it and they took out a procession against the arrangement. They raised slogans and made foul and threatening remarks against the worshipers. They threatened to close down the place by force if necessary. They also distributed anti-Ahmadiyya literature. The President of the Karachi Ahmadiyya Jamaat had to direct the prayer arrangements to be cancelled.

Mr Ataullah Waraich, President of the local Community of Chak 11 F.W; district Bahawalnagar was charged under PPC 298B for construction of a minaret and niche in the community’s house of worship.

 

The Naukot incident

At Naukot (Sind) a mulla led mob had attacked and demolished an Ahmadiyya mosque in August 1998. Fourteen Ahmadis, who were present in the mosque and had tried unsuccessfully to defend their place of worship, were arrested by the police.

They were wrongfully booked under various clauses of religious laws including the notorious Blasphemy Law. The government sent their case, surprisingly, to an Anti-Terrorist Court, although no terrorism whatsoever was involved. The defense approached the Sind High Court against trial by the ATA court and obtained a ‘stay order’. The ATA judge was very annoyed about it and openly threatened the victims for their audacity. Subsequently in July, a Division Bench of SHC, comprising Judge Saeed Arshad and Ashraf Laghari heard the case. The former, who is the senior judge, was very unsympathetic and refused to hear almost anything in favour of the accused. The Bench, without hearing the defense, rejected Ahmadiyya appeal and ordered the Anti-Terrorist Court at Mirpur Khas to proceed with the trial.

The defense put up a petition with the Supreme Court in order to seek a ‘stay order’ against the decision of the High Court.

Those who organized the mob and the subsequent attack have remained free, while the victims are behind bars. The hand of the high and mighty in the government is obviously behind this case of mass persecution. This is a very serious case in which fifteen persons have been deliberately made targets of legalized terrorism by authorities. They deserve immediate attention and relief from persecution and tyranny.

 

1998

Places of worship desecrated

Ahmadiyya mosques are a special target in the overall anti-Ahmadiyya plan. They were mentioned in the text of the notorious Ordinance XX. The mulla and the State have disturbed Ahmadiyya worship in as many locations as it was possible for them. A number of mosques were damaged, some were set on fire, and some were taken over, while some others were sealed. A few incidents involving places of worship are mentioned below.

Ahmadiyya prayer-center in Drigh Colony, Karachi that had been in use for the last 25 years, was outraged, worshippers were removed, and the centre was sealed after an angry mob sallied forth from a nearby mosque in the presence of the police.

On 18 January, under some plan, Mansab Ali, a retired police official, uttered some rough outbursts against the centre and demanded that it should be closed down. He refused to be mollified through dialogue and negotiations, and took steps to agitate other non-Ahmadi residents of the street. He also approached the mullah of the nearby mosque where they hatched a plan to incite a mob against the Ahmadiyya Centre the next Friday. The Ahmadiyya Community at Karachi informed the police and civil authorities of the situation and requested help. The authorities took no action to discourage the agitators; they only pushed the Ahmadis to the wall to yield ‘for the time being’ to non-Ahmadis’ demands. On Friday, a threatening mob of about 1000 strong arrived at the Ahmadiyya Centre raising angry slogans. The police arrived and refused to take any firm action against the agitators. On the other hand they forced one of the two choices upon Ahmadis:

(1) All Ahmadis be removed from the Centre under police care, and lock your centre. Police would be posted outside the centre.

or

(2) The police will arrest all Ahmadis present at the Centre, and the police will seal it.

Ahmadis were given five minutes to decide. In fact it was not a choice because the mosque was to be sealed in both cases. So they sealed the mosque. In the meantime the mob got hold of a number of Ahmadis and beat them up. Three Ahmadis were badly hurt. One of them, Mr. Ashraf Cheema received head injuries; three stitches were applied. It is noteworthy that despite early warning and request, no police presence was made at the Centre at the time of the Friday prayers to scare away the possible attackers. The police SHO when questioned, replied, ” I was assured by mullahs with long beards that on this holiest day of the Ramdan they would undertake no violence, so I removed the police contingent.” What puerility!

Eight Ahmadis, who had retired to the Centre for 10-days’  ‘Itekaf’ for traditional devotion and remembrance of God, had to be moved from there before it was locked to worshipers. Mr. Amir Irshad, the Ahmadiyya resident missionary, was also moved away from there alongwith his family. The Centre which was in use for the last 25 years was closed down not only in the presence of authorities but also under their arrangements; and the politicians do not tire talking about the religious freedom enjoyed by minorities in Pakistan.

The fate of the mosque at Nafisnagar and Naukot has been described earlier under another heading. It is true that in no Islamic country during the last fourteen centuries as many mosques have been desecrated as in Pakistan.

Ahmadiyya Mosque at Chak 61 RB, district Faisalabad was subjected to stoning in January 1998.

The Kalima written on the face of the Ahmadiyya Mosque, Ghugh Chak 20 was erased under police supervision on 4 November 1998.

 

Freedom of worship denied

Local Ahmadis established a prayer centre at Hakim & Co in Defense Market NR 2, Karachi. Approximately 10 worshippers would gather there for a few minutes to offer their routine prayers quietly, in private. The religious zealots came to know of this, and on three different occasions they sent messages to Ahmadis to stop praying at the location. Then they threatened to blow up the place. As a result, Ahmadis stopped assembling there for prayers.

 

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