Murder of a community leader – for his faith only
Mian Iqbal Ahmad, advocate, District President of the Ahmadiyya Community, Rajanpur was murdered at his home office by unknown gunmen at about 2120 on February 25, 2003. Mr Iqbal Ahmad was working in his office at the time. His daughter and brother were with him. Two armed men with masks entered his office and ordered the girl to leave. One of them fired at Mian Iqbal while he was still in the chair. The bullet hit him on the head and came out from behind the ear on the other side. Mian Iqbal could move no further. His blood flowed profusely from his head downward on to his chest. In less than ten minutes he died. He was 61. His daughter noticed that one of the killers whose mask had come off partly was a bearded fellow in his early twenties. Mian Iqbal’s brother was also hit. The assassins, having accomplished their grisly act, fled from the scene of crime.
On the day of the incident, the police was on high alert in the town for some other reason. There was police presence and a police vehicle only about three hundred yards away from the scene of this crime, however this did not stop the killers from their mission, nor could they be arrested afterwards. Such is the performance of the police. It is now over ten months that this high-profile murder took place, but no arrest has been made till now, and there is no indication of any progress in the police investigation. Mian Iqbal had no personal enemies, however, a few rabid mullahs were after his blood. In the last quarter of year 2001, in one of the public meetings, the mullahs had declared that Ahmadis were Wajab ul Qatl (who must be killed). The fact had come to the notice of authorities, but they took no action, nor did they question any mullah who could be suspect in the murder of this prominent Ahmadi.
The murder of Mian Iqbal has a background. It is a model case that shows how such acts are precipitated. It illustrates the modalities of mullah-official teamwork that culminates in such a tragic end for the victims. The background of this case is therefore described below in essential detail.
Mian Iqbal was not an Ahmadi by birth. He joined the Ahmadiyya Community of his own volition when he was approximately 20 years old. He graduated in law and took to practice in the courts. He was intelligent, hardworking and honest, so he became a successful lawyer. He spared time for charity work and community service, so he rose to become the president of the district Ahmadiyya Community. His success and community position did not endear him to mullahs of the Khatme Nabuwwat organization, who decided to go for him. Initially they decided to bank upon the state to incarcerate him under the anti-Ahmadiyya and other religious laws.
General Zia promulgated the notorious anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance XX in 1984. So in 1987, the mullahs prevailed upon the police to charge Mian Iqbal under that Ordinance. He was arrested on September 20, 1987 under PPC 298C, case Nr. 30/87. Subsequently Mian Iqbal was released on bail for the duration of the trial. In 2003, he was still being prosecuted, 16 years after the registration of that case. Witnesses had been called to appear in the court on February 26, 2003, the day after Mian Iqbal’s life was taken.
Mullahs had targeted Mian Iqbal in late 80’s, so he had to face many other cases in the years ahead. Of these, the criminal accusation of 1994 against him deserves special mention, that he, allegedly in a discussion with them, used derogatory remarks about the Holy Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be on him). This was a brazen lie. Mian Iqbal could never defile the Holy Prophet who was the most respected personality in his faith and belief. The Deputy Commissioner (DC), Tariq Javed Afridi, ordered on inquiry. Although the investigating officer found nothing to implicate Mr Iqbal under the Blasphemy law, PPC 295C, the publicity-hungry DC had him charged under the notorious law, in addition to another religious law, PPC 298A. Mian Iqbal was arrested in this false case on October 13, 1994 and put behind bars. The Sessions Judge, under the influence of the DC refused to accept his bail application, so the poor accused had to seek relief from the High Court. He spent five weeks in prison before the High Court released him on bail.
The Deputy Commissioner behaved more like a politician, even a mullah, rather than a civil servant in this case. He arranged the local tabloid flash the following headlines and news:
The Deputy Commissioner tightens the grip on Qadianis, arrests their District Amir.
Prior to this a Qadiani missionary was arrested at Dajal on the orders of the DC and the complaint of Awami Youth League.
– … I have told the City Magistrate not to accept bails of the enemies of the Sovereign of the Universe (the Holy Prophet). We possess little except the love of the Holy Prophet – Tariq Javed Afridi (the DC)
The weekly Mithan, Rajanpur; Oct 20, 1994
Still more in the same tabloid:
Operation Clean up against the mischief of Qadianism
Crack down against insolents of the Prophet
The DC also stated, “ We have done all this (arrest of Mian Iqbal) in our submission to the Master of the Two Worlds (the Holy Prophet). It is possible that this service of ours might gain acceptance in his august presence.”
The tabloid not only splashed the ‘great’ action of the DC, it even wrote an editorial on the subject that ended on the following note:
“Mr Tariq Javed Afridi, the DC’s action against the Qadiani missionaries and the District President, and their incarceration behind bars of prison, is not only commendable but deserves high acclaim. If this policy persists, it will soon cleanse the whole atmosphere of all evil.”
This case under the blasphemy law was registered at the order of the DC, and a mullah Hafiz Muhammad Siddique was arranged to act as the complainant in FIR 160/94. The mutual cooperation between the mullah and the state was shown by the headline in the daily Sahil, Rajanpur of October 15, 1995:
We are grateful to the Ulema (clerics) for their support – Tariq Afridi.
It should be mentioned here that this DC, Tariq Javed Afridi was, a few months later, found guilty of corruption by the government, and ended up in prison.
The mullahs of the Khatme Nabuwwat Organization get paid from confidential sources for making mischief. Mullah Ali Muhammad Parhar heads this organization in Rajanpur and maintains close liaison with the police to mutual benefit. In 1999 he succeeded in getting a criminal case registered in FIR 260/99 against Mian Iqbal Ahmad under PPC 298C/ 298. In this case they got one, Nazir Ahmad Dangar (in Punjabi, a Dangar means ‘animal’) make a fabricated complaint. They found the excuse in a small gathering of Ahmadi young men in an Ahmadiyya mosque at a village Kotla Janda. Mian Iqbal and six unnamed Ahmadis were accused of proselytizing, defiling the Holy Prophet, using a loudspeaker, assembling in a place of worship that has a minaret like a mosque etc. In fact no non-Ahmadi had been invited nor permitted to attend the gathering, no loudspeaker was used as there was no need of one to talk to only 70 persons, nor does that mosque have a minaret; and of course, no Ahmadi would ever think of defiling the good name of the Holy Prophet. The complaint was a pack of lies. No wonder, the magistrate accepted Mian Iqbal’s plea for bail.
For many years, Mian Iqbal faced persistent harassment and threats from anti-Ahmadiyya religious activists. In August 1999 he conveyed in a letter that a few days earlier three men who looked like madrassa students encircled him in a threatening manner, but fled as two Ahmadis, who were nearby intervened. A fortnight before, a non-Ahmadi had sent him a threatening message. In those days, a college student told his colleague that if he gets hold of a pistol, he would like to try it on Mian Iqbal. There were confirmed reports that mullahs conspired to get him implicated in some fabricated criminal case of serious nature like murder or armed robbery. In the year 2000, when confronted with a false accusation under the Blasphemy Law, he wrote in a letter on December 8, 2000: “I was charged under PPC 295C, the Blasphemy Law, in 1994. I applied to the Session Court, the High Court and then to the Supreme Court to set aside (the false allegation) but the three courts rejected my plea. I have been incarcerated on two occasions. I am growing old. Now to suffer incarceration and to go through the rough procedure of appeal in the High Court and the Supreme Court, that may take 8 to 10 years, while in prison, would be tortuous.”
Although Mian Iqbal was implicated by the mullah in numerous cases, he was not behind bars as desired by the mullah. He was carrying on with his successful legal practice, and was also defending Ahmadi cases in courts. Lately he had won the famous case at Leyya where four Ahmadis had been charged under PPC 295B and 298C. It seems that the mullah decided to go for the kill. It does not cost much to hire assassins. However, it is for the police to investigate in depth, and reach the killers. But, alas!
Mian Iqbal’s gruesome murder was mourned by many in Rajanpur and nearby districts. The District Bar Association and the legal community protested manifestly at this ghastly crime. Urdu language national papers, that are normally very shy to support an Ahmadiyya case, spared plenty of space to report protests against Mian Iqbal’s murder.
Following headlines would show:
Assassins of Mian Iqbal, advocate must be arrested as soon as possible.
This (murder) is a savage act. People should be intimated its causes. Hafizur Rahman Dareshak District Nazim
The daily Nawa-i-Waqt; February 28, 2003
Lawyers’ protest. No appearances in courts for three days. Killers must be arrested forthwith and given due punishment.
The daily Nawa-i-Waqt; February 27, 2003
The Daily Ausaf, of Multan; February 27, 2003 reported as follows:
Lawyers of D. G. Khan went on strike for half day and did not attend district courts.
Office-bearers and members of the D. G. Khan’s Bar Association stated that if killers of the murdered advocate were not arrested immediately, the protest wave would engulf D G Khan.
Mian Iqbal Ahmad was a good man and a competent lawyer. A non-Ahmadi was heard saying: ‘Rajanpur is now left without a (great) man of law.’ He was a popular man for his sympathetic and helpful disposition. He is survived by a widow, two sons and three daughters. Of his five children, three have unfortunately some genetic defect and are somewhat retarded. The other two are still students. The family now has no earning member. The vultures of extremism and fanaticism consumed the breadwinner. The state acted indifferent and apathetic; the deceased was only an Ahmadi.