Ahmadis do not have to be criminals, in the normal sense of the word, to end up in prison in Pakistan. The system is designed that their daily routines, that for a non-Ahmadi are considered virtues by the society, can be readily adjudged as criminal acts by courts. Ahmadis are known to have been awarded prison terms for saying Salam, the Islamic greetings. The system allows the police to arrest an Ahmadi simply on the complaint of a mullah. Magistrates and judges are free to exercise their discretion in refusing bail to the victims. Ahmadis have stayed in prison for years while undergoing trial on religious charges, and eventually declared NOT GUILTY. To do justice to the description of prison life in Pakistan would require a Tolstoy. Ahmadi victims of the legal system normally have no prior experience of police stations, courts and prisons; their plight was partly described by Oscar Wilde in the Ballad of Reading Gaol:
I know not whether Laws be right,
Or whether Laws be wrong;
All that we know who lie in gaol
Is that the wall is strong;
And that each day is like a year,
A year whose days are long.
Life imprisonment awarded to Ahmadi on false charge of blasphemy
Faisalabad; November 29, 2004: Sajjad Hussain Sundhar, Additional Session Judge sentenced Mr. Muhammad Iqbal, Ahmadi of Chak 227/GB, district Faisalabad to imprisonment for life and Rs.10,000 fine under the dreaded blasphemy clause PPC 295C, on November 29, 2004. The accused will serve additional six months in prison if he does not pay the fine. The case was registered against Mr. Iqbal on 23 March 2004 (the Republic Day of Pakistan), at the report of a mullah Zulfiquar Ali, the imam of the local mosque. Muhammad Ashraf SI/SHO of police station Tarkhani registered the case in FIR No. 73/04 under PPC 295C. The police arrested the accused after the magistrate refused to confirm his provisional bail before arrest. Since then the accused faced the trial while in prison.
The eight innocent from Chak Sikandar
A rabid mullah, who had running feuds with many, including his relatives, was murdered in Chak Sikandar in September 2003. The anti-Ahmadiyya opposition found it very opportune to name Ahmadis in the murder. The police, rather than making an effort to find the real murderer, arrested the named 10 Ahmadis and put them behind bars.
Case detail is available in section Persecution Archives: The Judiciary.
The unsuspecting son-in-law
Mr. Zulfiquar Ali of District Gujranwala, Punjab joined the Ahmadiyya Community approximately two years ago. He got married to Ms Fatima of Banglah Tando Adam, District Sanghar, Sindh on December 15, 2003. The bride was even otherwise a relation of his. But he ended up in prison for this.
Three Ahmadis arrested under the blasphemy clause PPC 295B. Face Life imprisonment
Three Ahmadis, Messers Shahadat Ali, Mansur Hussain and Abdul Hafeez were named in FIR 280/2004 at Police Station Kassoki, District Hafizabad on December 18, 2004 under PPC 295B in a complaint lodged by a mullah, Sanaullah, for allegedly burning copies of the Holy Quran. The police have arrested the accused.
No Holy Qurans were set on fire; the accusation is a blatant lie of Ahmadi-bashers. The three accused are at risk of imprisonment for life. Only four weeks ago an Ahmadi, Muhammad Iqbal was sentenced to life imprisonment in Faisalabad on fabricated charge of blasphemy. Production of two false witnesses for a religious cause is regrettably no problem in the prevailing culture here.
Arrest of a bridegroom and his father
Mr. Aamir Mahmud, the bridegroom and Mr. Abdul Haq, his father were arrested by the police on charge of using Islamic epithets on wedding invitation cards. Details of this case are given in section Persecution Archives: Administration-Police.
A doctor and a teacher sent behind bars
A septuagenarian president of a village Ahmadi community and his two sons, a doctor and a teacher were arrested in December 2003 under PPC 298C, an Ahmadi-specific law. Their application for bail was rejected by the Sessions. The High Court subsequently accepted the bail plea of the old man, while the sons remained in prison.
Case detail is available in section Persecution Archives: The Judiciary.
The police performance
Last year the police had charged mullah Allah Yar Arshad and Mr Iftikhar Bajwah, an Ahmadi under MPO 16 for writing objectionable poetry against each other. Now, a year later, the police arrested the Ahmadi, but took no action against the mullah. The discrimination was brazen and disgraceful. When pointed out, they hurriedly prepared the papers and presented their victim in the court. Two days later, the court released him on bail.
Mr. Ghulam Ahmad Tahir, a youth from the troubled village of Chak Sikandar was arrested by the police at the complaint of anti-Ahmadi activists.
A handicapped person maltreated
Mr. Muhammad Ahsan is a person of unstable mind with a medical history. He decided to go and visit the local seminary of Khatme Nubuwwat. They got hold of him, took him to the police. They arrested him and locked him up behind bars.
Arrest without due inquiry
Mr. Tahir Ejaz was arrested by the police at the complaint of a religious activist in village
Kariala where dead body of an Ahmadi had been disinterred and disposed by extremist elements. The police have not been able to discover the corpse, nor have they named the perpetrator of the crime.
- Five Ahmadis were arrested in February in Rabwah on fabricated charges under PPC 342 and 355.
- The police arrested two Ahmadis, Mr Aziz Ahmad and Mahbub Ahmad under section PPC 298 and 297 at Sadullah Pur in March 2003. Subsequently the police detained three more Ahmadis in the same case.
Case detail is available in section Persecution Archives: Administration-Police.
- Mr Ghulam Hussain of Kotla Naseer, district Rajanpur was detained by the police on fabricated charge of defiling the Quran. The accuser had personal vendetta to settle with the accused.
- Mr Suleman Ahmad an Ahmadi student was arrested in May 2003 under the anti-Ahmadiyya law PPC 298C. He remained in prison for months before his release on bail.
Case detail is available in section Persecution Archives: The Society.
- Mr Mubarak Ahmad was arrested by the police on May 29, 2003 under PPC 298C for writing Kalima (Islamic creed) on his own house. He spent 4 weeks in jail before release on bail.
Case detail is available in section Persecution Archives: Administration-Police.
- Ms Nasreen Tah and her brother Ehsanullah were arrested in July at Mardan under PPC 295B on charge of blasphemy for burning some Quranic verses. They spent time in prison before release on bail.
- Eighteen Ahmadis were arrested in Chak Sikandar under PPC 107/151 subsequent to the murder of a mullah Amir by untraced murderers. In addition, 10 other Ahmadis were arrested, as they were mentioned in the incident’s FIR. The group of eighteen has been released on bail while the other 10 remain behind bars, although they were not involved in the mullah’s murder.
- Case detail is available in section Persecution Archives: Administration-Police.
- Mr Daud Muzaffar was charged under Ahmadi-specific law PPC 298C on November 17, 2003 at Rabwah, and arrested. He is still in prison, as even the Session Judge rejected his plea for bail.
Case detail is available in section Persecution Archives: The Mulla.
- Mr. Muhammad Ismail, a septuagenarian and the president of local Ahmadiyya Community of Chak 45/P, district Rahim Yar Khan and his son Mr Tahir Ahmad, a headmaster were arrested under the anti-Ahmadiyya law PPC 298 C on December 16, 2003.
Lest they be forgotten
I. In prison are the Ahmadi victims of the Takht Hazara bloodshed. It would be recalled that a mullah posted in this village of district Sargodha, purely on anti-Ahmadiyya mission, managed successfully to precipitate a riot, as a result of which five Ahmadis were murdered inside their own mosque in November 2000. None of the attackers lost his life. The court released the mullah Athar Shah who was responsible for planning and precipitating the bloody riot, and sentenced four Ahmadis to five years in prison. They are still awaiting a hearing of their appeal. These are:
1. Mr Abdul Hamid 3. Mr Arshad
2. Mr Khalid Mehmood 4. Mr Waseem
II. A rabid mullah, who had running feuds with many including his relatives, was murdered in Chak Sikandar in September 2003. The anti-Ahmadiyya opposition found it very opportune to name Ahmadis in the murder. The police, rather than striving to find the real murderer, arrested 10 Ahmadis and put them behind bars. Since then, the police has come to know some facts of the case, and it is almost certain that the police know that the arrested Ahmadis are not involved in this crime, still these innocent have not been released nor the court has been assisted to bail them out. The FIR has been sealed, and the accused have not been charged before a court. Obviously the police have no case against them; still these breadwinners of their families continue to suffer in prison because the authorities find it convenient to remain scared of the mullah. Following are the victims of this tragic state of affairs:
1. Muhammad Sadiq
2. Muhammad Idrees
3. Basharat Ahmad
4. Nasir Ahmad
5. Mian Khan
6. Bashir Ahmad
7. Ejaz Ahmad
8. Muhammad Akmal
9. Munir Ahmad
10. Abdur Rehman
Three years’ Imprisonment under Anti-Ahmadiyya Law at Lodhran
Mr Hameedullah Bajwah, an ex-President of the Ahmadiyya Community of District Lodhran was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment on September 21, 2002, under the Anti-Ahmadiyya law, by Mr Qamar Ejaz, the Senior Civil Judge at Lodhran.
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 attepted to construct a mosque. Mr Sher Muhammad was arrested in this.
The Haveli Lakha Case reopened
Mr. Abdul Qadir suffered arrest unlawfully, and met undeserved harsh treatment by a magistrate in October 2002.
Prosecution under the Anti-Ahmadiyya Law
Mirpur, Azad Kashmir; April 24, 2002: A few persons from a local non-Ahmadiyya mosque approached Mr Muhammad Asif, Ahmadi on April 23, and asked him to accompany them to the nearby mosque. Asif, who expected no mischief obliged. On arrival at the mosque, he found that a small crowd had already assembled there to manhandle him. They beat him up and accused him of preaching his religious views.
The next day the police registered a case under the notorious anti-Ahmadiyya law PPC 298C against Asif and arrested him. They also include his father’s name in the FIR. They added PPC 108 also to the accusation.
A Story for future historians
Mr Waheed Ahmad suffered for years in prison, and was eventually acquitted of the charge. His ordeal is described in some detail in section Persecution Archives: The Society.
Mr Abdul Majid, an octogenarian and a community president is victimized for his faith and placed in prison on absurd charges
On behest of mullahs, the administration registered a criminal case on April 24, 2001 against Mr Abdul Majid for having a minaret and a niche in the Ahmadiyya mosque of the village and also for keeping copies of the Quran in the mosque. The case was sent unjustifiably to an Anti-terrorism court. The Blasphemy clause, PPC 295B was also applied that carries life imprisonment.
Mr Saggon of Khangarh
Mr Mushtaq Ahmad Saggon, an Ahmadi, was charged under the anti-Ahmadiyya law PPC 298C on August 31, 2002 and was arrested by the police. The magistrate, Mr Shafiq Bokhari did not attend to his request for bail for a whole week and decided to reject it on September 11, 2002. Eventually the plea for bail reached the High Court.
Case details are available in section Persecution Archives: The Judiciary.
Prisoners of Takht Hazara
Four prisoners of conscience, 1.Mr. Abdul Hamid 2. Mr. Arshad 3. Mr Khalid Mehmood and 4. Mr Waseem suffered for months in prison.
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 when he was eventually acquitted in 2002. His story is heart-rending.
Still another criminal case
Mr Waris Khan of Peshawar, an Ahmadi was arrested by the police on September 2, 2002 at the accusation of a mullah, Anwarul Haq, for preaching. A case was registered against him under PPC 295A and PPC 298C (a clause of the anti-Ahmadiyya law).
Anti-Ahmadiyya law and other religious laws continue to take their toll of Ahmadi victims. These laws are among those that continue to be invoked and applied with no let-up. Although they violate basic human rights, and the government has to be, at times, apologetic about them, the society and the state continue to use them as tools to suppress Ahmadis and to impose extreme hardships on them. Some Ahmadis are in prison for years. Many face extensive grilling through the judicial mill. Others face untold misery. One wonders, how, in twenty-first century C.E., a society can perpetuate such tyranny against a peaceful and innocent community, and show such lack of concern to human suffering and international condemnation. Updated situation of Ahmadis who are in prison is mentioned below as a reminder to those who care for the plight of those who have been deprived of their inalienable rights, who suffer detention and have been wrongfully denied the right to be in open air – a right enjoyed even by birds and animals.
- Fourteen Ahmadis were arrested in August 1998 in Naukot (Sind). They had tried, unsuccessfully, to defend their mosque when a mob, one thousand strong, attacked their mosque. However, not a single person from among the attackers was arrested. This was the fourth year that these Ahmadis were in prison facing serious charges levied on religious grounds. This is a case of gross injustice, overt discrimination and malicious administration. The case was registered during the regime of president Tarar and prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
- Dr. Waheed Ahmad of Golarchi suffered highly unjust and harsh 10 years’ imprisonment awarded by an Anti-Terrorist Special Court for allegedly filling in Census Data Form incorrectly. He remained in prison for more than three and half years. He is suffering from serious cardiac problem. This year his appeal was pending in the High Court, so was his plea for release on bail pending a revision of the sentence.
- Mr. Tahir A Nadeem of District Mirpur Khas wore a shirt with Islamic creed written on it. He is in prison for over two years. He was also tried in an Anti-Terrorist Court. Authorities who equate putting on a shirt with Islamic creed with terrorism must be either idiotic, mentally deranged or vicious. The High Court issued a Stay Order that the judgment may not be announced awaiting a ruling of the High Court. Mr Nadeem is awaiting the ruling but in prison. When will the ruling come, no one knows.
d. Mr. Abdul Majeed of District Leyya was arrested on April 24, 2001 and callously and frivolously charged under religious clauses PPC 298B, 295B and also 295A under which the accused may be tried by Anti-Terrorism Courts. After almost three and half months’ legal proceedings, the judge removed the PPC 295A, but maintained the other two clauses, thus indicating that authorities were wrong and malicious in pushing the case to an anti-terrorist court. The accused however remains behind bars. The High Court also rejected his plea for bail. It is his ninth month now in prison.
e. Last year, a violent mob killed five Ahmadis in their local mosque at Takht Hazara in District Sargodha, and damaged the mosque. There was no loss of life among the attackers. The judge, however, awarded a total of 20 years imprisonment sentences to each of the four Ahmadis who tried to defend their place of worship-albiet unsuccessfully.
f. Mr. Laeeq Ahmad was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment on November 24, for writing the words O Allah, O Muhammad and Bismilla (in the name of God) in his shop.
g. Mr Nazir Ahmad is serving his 118 years sentence; he built a new mosque in place of a dilapidated one.
If the government is sincere and serious about its claim of being sensitive to the violation of human rights, it should withdraw its sponsorship and support of above cases and provide relief to these prisoners of conscience.
Prisoners of conscience
Since the promulgation of the notorious Ordinance in 1984, not a single day has passed when an Ahmadi was not in prison as its consequence. A number of Ahmadis are made to stay behind bars while awaiting trial. Magistrates and trial courts tend to refuse them the benefit of release on bail. The victims then have to go to High Courts or the Supreme Court to seek relief. It is expensive and tiring. Occasionally they have to wait for a long time before their plea is heard and granted. Ahmadis have been often charged frivolously and baselessly under the religious law of PPC 295A, which is cognizable by Anti-Terrorism Special Courts. These courts tend to refuse bail. When higher courts are approached with the plea that the accusation involves no terrorism act whatsoever, they are too busy to give a decision; in the meantime the victims rot in prisons where living conditions are terrible. As Ahmadis, being good citizens, have no previous experience of interaction with police, courts and prisons, they find the ordeal excessively painful. Some of them have been in prison for months, even years, without being held ‘guilty’.
It is almost two and half years that fourteen Ahmadis arrested for defending their mosque at Naukot, though unsuccessfully, continue to suffer in prison. There is no case; their only fault is their faith. Some of them are seriously ill in prison. For example, Mr Irshad Ahmad is suffering from serious kidney inflection. He was hospitalized on 7 November 2000. As he is under trial in an ATA Court, eight policemen stood guard on him all the time and he was kept chained to the bed while his feet remained in fetters. The criminals who attacked their mosque go about freely.
Mr Nazeer Ahmad, 14 years old when arrested, in a similar situation, is in prison for two and half years because he helped demolish on old dilapidated mosque and construct a new on at the site.
Mr. Waheed Ahmad of Golarchi is suffering highly unjust and harsh 10 years’ imprisonment awarded by an Anti-Terrorist Special Court for allegedly filling in Census Data Form incorrectly. He is in prison also for over two and half years. He is now suffering from cardiac problem, in addition.
Mr. Tahir A. Nadeem of District Mirpur Khas wore a shirt with Islamic Creed on it. He is in prison for almost a year and half for something so petty. It is ridiculous and criminal to punish someone so harshly for displaying a statement that the society believes to be a great truth.
Mr Munir Ahmad of District Sialkot, a 70 years old Ahmadi was frivolously charged under PPC 295A for preaching and taken to an Anti-Terrorist Court. He is behind bars for over one year.
The above mentioned current cases whose victims have suffered the longest are described in some detail here.
On 31 December 2000, 25 Ahmadis are in prison. Other then those mentioned above, the remaining cases are mentioned below:
- Four Ahmadis of Chak Bhauru, Punjab are in prison. Fundamentalists had poisoned the village community life, so it led to a clash. One Ahmadi was murdered. There was no loss of life among the opponents. Four Ahmadis are awaiting trial in prison, in addition to others who are out on bail.
- Mr. Munir Ahmadi of Faisalabad was falsely charged under PPC 295B in September 2000.
- Mr Asad Zahoor used the term Ameerul Mominin (leader of the faithful) in a letter to the Head of the Ahmadiyya Community. He was arrested and sent to Sialkot jail. The magistrate rejected his plea for release on bail.
- The police arrested Mr Muzaffar Ahmad, Ahmadi, on December 28 at Rabwah under PPC 188 for playing an audio cassette loudly at his shop. PPC 188 is applicable in case Section 144 is enforced by the Deputy Commissioner; but that was not the case. Still the police acted, reportedly to placate the mulla.
Ahmadis in Prison
- Mr Ghulam Mustafa Baloch, an Ahmadi teacher, who was accused of preaching, was sentenced to a total of 13 years’ imprisonment by an Anti-terrorist court.
- Dr Waheed Ahmad of Golarchi, who was found guilty of filling incorrectly the religion column of a census form of an acquaintance, is serving the 10 years’ imprisonment sentence awarded by an Anti-terrorist court.
- Fifteen Ahmadis of Naukot, Sind, who unsuccessfully tried to defend their mosque when it was attacked and demolished by a mulla-led mob, were charged under the Blasphemy Law in August last year, and were arrested. They have been locked up in Hyderabad jail. It is now more than a year that they are in prison. No light is yet visible at the end of their tunnel.
- Dr Abdul Ghani of district Sialkot was detained in September 1999 on charge of preaching. His plea for release on bail was rejected.
- Mr. Tahir A Nadeem of Mirpur Khas (Sind) who was found wearing a T-shirt with the Kalima on it. He was arrested and hauled before an Anti-terrorist Court. He has not been released on bail.
- Mr Mushtaq Ahmad Saggoo of Khangarh was accused of preaching in July. He was charged under clauses that prescribe death and long-term imprisonment as penalty. He is in jail although not yet found ‘guilty’.
- Mr Ataulla Waraich of Chishtian Sadr was accused of building a minaret and a niche in the Ahmadiyya mosque. The judiciary finds the accusation too serious to grant him bail while he awaits trial.
- Mr Munir Ahmad of district Sialkot was accused of preaching in September and charged under PPC 295A that carries 10 years’ imprisonment as penalty. He remains behind bars.
It may be mentioned that most of the above mentioned Ahmadis are married and have children. They have hardly anyone else to support their families. Their detention causes great hardships to the stricken families. The unjust situation imposed upon them is indeed distressing.
Freedom denied – literally
Mr Dur Muhammad, an Ahmadi from Rabwah took a bus to go to Lasharian, district Faisalabad on September 15, 1999 where he knew some locals. When he arrived at a nearby bus stop, he was met by a man who was opposed to Ahmadiyyat. The man asked a few others to join him in maltreating the visiting Ahmadi. They forcibly took Mr Dur Muhammad to a nearby farm and put him under chains in a cattle shed. After about an hour and a half, some decent persons came over, rebuked the aggressor and released the victim who returned to Rabwah.
Ahmadis in Prison
Since the promulgation of the notorious Ordinance in 1984 not a single day has passed when an Ahmadi was not in prison as its consequence. Ahmadis were arrested in the past and sentenced to imprisonment terms, but they could sometimes get relief in higher courts and were released on bail to await trial or consideration of their appeal. However, it has been rough going for unfortunate individuals like the ‘Minawali Four’ who suffered for four years in jail before they were released on bail last year. This year has proven to be the worst in recent years in this respect. Three Ahmadis from Sheikhupura are serving life terms in prison for ‘Blasphemy’ which they never committed. In fact, the judge himself conveyed to them privately that he was convinced that they were not guilty of the charge. Mr. Waheed Ahmad of Golarchi, who allegedly filled in a Census proforma incorrectly, is serving his 10 years’ imprisonment term awarded him by an Anti-Terrorist court. Four Ahmadis from Ghugh are awaiting trial in jail on a so-called blasphemy charge; they are accused of writing Kalima in their mosque. Then, there are fifteen Ahmadis in Hyderabad jail who are awaiting trial before an anti-terrorist court, even though they themselves were exposed to terror by the religious extremists.
This situation, according to a fair assessment, is a result of the interest of the highest person in the land, who is highly prejudiced against Ahmadis.