Prisoners of conscience (2013 – 2014)

Prisoners of conscience

 2014

Imprisonment under law specific to Ahmadis

Haveli Majoka, District Sargodha; February 10, 2014:  Mr. Muhammad Qasim was sentenced by a magistrate to two years’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 30,000/- under Ahmadi-specific law PPC 298-C. He faced prosecution for almost three and half years.

Three Ahmadis of Haveli Majoka, Mr. Muhammad Qasim, Mr. Ahmad Yar and Mr. Mazahir Ahmad were booked on mullas’ insistence in a fabricated case on October 24, 2010 for “committing blasphemy and preaching.” The police found the evidence unconvincing, but mulla Toofani (Typhoon) demanded that charges be pressed. Mr. Ahmad Yar was 85 years old and of fragile health.

The accused applied for bail; however extremists thronged the court on every hearing. On November 15, 2010, a judge struck the dreaded blasphemy clause, released Mr. Ahmad Yar, but refused the bail for the other two accused, under PPC 298-C. The police arrested them. The state prosecutor opposed the grant of bail despite the fact that it was established in the court that the blasphemy accusation was frivolous and false.

In a subsequent appeal for bail, on the date of hearing, dozens of fanatics entered the court room to harass the judge. Twice they were expelled from the court room. At this the agitators shouted slogans against the judge. The agitators came to know that the judge was going to accept the bail, so scores of them forced entry in the court room, shouted insults at the judge and demanded that the bail be refused. At this the judge told his office that he was leaving for Sargodha where the decision papers be sent to him for signature. Thus the bail was granted and the accused were released from detention.

More than three years after the decision on bail, a magistrate in Sargodha sentenced Mr. Muhammad Qasim to two years’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 30,000/-.

Mr. Qasim was arrested immediately. He moved a higher court against the magistrate’s verdict, and requested for bail.

Mr. Mazahir Ahmad, under the circumstances, left the country in search of peace and a somewhat normal life.

Ahmadi missionary booked and arrested under false charge of defiling the Holy Qur’an

Rabwah:         The central office of Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan issued the following press release on April 1, 2014 (Translation):

 

PRESS RELEASE

Attack on Ahmadiyya place of worship in Tando Allah Yar (Sindh) after fabricated and malicious accusation of defiling the Holy Quran deserves condemnation

No Ahmadi can ever consider defiling the Holy Quran: Spokesman Jamaat Ahmadiyya

 

Chenab Nagar (Rabwah):           Mr. Saleem Ud Din, spokesman of the Jamaat Ahmadiyya Pakistan strongly condemned the extremist elements for their entry into and damage to the Ahmadiyya place of worship over false and malicious accusation of defiling the Holy Quran. “It is an extremely vicious and baseless charge; no Ahmadi can ever think of defiling the Holy Quran,” he said.

For all Ahmadis, the Holy Quran is the most sacred book that was revealed to our beloved prophet, Muhammad, peace be on him. We have been taught: “Those who honour the Quran will be honoured in the heaven.”

He added that some miscreants threw stones at the Ahmadiyya place of worship, and Mr. Tahir Ahmad Khalid rebuked them; as a result they jointly undertook an attack on the Ahmadiyya worship place. They broke open the door and did physical harm to Mr. Khalid. The police arrived and took him in protective custody. At this the mob attacked the police with stones. Thereafter, under pressure of the religious extremists the police registered a false criminal case against Mr. Khalid over baseless complaint of defiling the Quran.

Mr. Saleem Ud Din, the spokesman of Jamaat Ahmadiyya Pakistan expressed deep grief and sorrow over this incident and called it highly shameful. It shows that extremist elements are tightening their grip, by the day, on Pakistani society, he said. Such incidents are becoming frequent in Pakistan, more so in Sindh, whereby extremist religious elements are targeting places of worship of other faiths and denominations. He also referred to the attack on a Hindu temple in Larkana, and opined that now nobody is safe at the hand of extremists in Pakistan, Muslims as well as non-Muslims. He demanded a fair inquiry and severe punishment for those found responsible for the incident. He also demanded that the baseless charge against Mr. Khalid should be dropped and he should be released.

The police registered Case No. 68/2014 in Police Station Section A Tando Allah Yar against Mr. Tahir Ahmad Khalid under sections PPC 295-B and 337A1-F1 on March 31, 2014.

The mullas agitated the common folk and had the city closed down. Two days later, Qari Muhammad Ayub who volunteered to become ‘complainant’ in the fabricated police case, organized a rally in Masjid Qaba where he delivered a barrage of abuse against Ahmadis. He announced holding a Khatme Nabuwwat rally on April 6. He announced his resolve to clear Tando Allah Yar of all Qadianis and to ‘exterminate them altogether.’

Thereafter Mr. Khalid, the missionary was taken apparently in protective custody.

An Ahmadi delegation met senior police officials to request support and protection. The SSP advised the Ahmadi residents to shift their residences to a safer location. Easier said than done. Ahmadis protested that they had been wronged, attacked and booked in a false case, and now they are asked to leave their home and hearth where they have lived for decades. The SSP seemed to understand and promised help.

The detention of Mr. Khalid, which was initially taken as ‘protective custody’ got stuck.On April 19,the Sessions Judge found it convenient to reject his plea for bail. The accused had to knock at the door of the High Court to justify his bail, although the accusation of defiling the Quran was false, fabricated and entirely malafide.

To be an Ahmadi in Pakistan is to be at risk – all the time.

        Mr. Khalid remained in prison.

On June 2, the advocate for the prosecution told the court that he was new to the case, and needed time to prepare his case. The court postponed the hearing till June 9.

On June 9, the prosecution team, indulging in delaying tactics failed to turn up. The judge scheduled the next hearing for June 16.

On June 16, the court could not take up this case for lack of time, and gave June 30 as the next date of hearing.

On July 1, the Ahmadi remained incarcerated. The next given date of hearing was July 15.

Whither the speech of 11th August 1947 of the founding father of this Republic!

The Ahmadi missionary was finally released on bail on September 13, 2014,after five and half months of detention on a false accusation of blasphemy.

 

Ahmadi youth accusedfalsely

Gujranwala; July 28, 2014:   Anti-Ahmadi mob led by mullas attacked Ahmadi homes on the false pretext that an Ahmadi youth had defaced a picture of the Sacred Mosque in Makkah on the Facebook. The clerics made announcements on sound amplifiers in mosques to gather hundreds of goons against the local peace-loving innocent Ahmadis. The riot resulted in loss of Ahmadi lives and extensive damage to their property.

The police also registered a case under Anti-terrorism clause ATA 11-W, PPC 324 and 295-A, a blasphemy clause, against Mr. Aqib Saleem and Mr. Atiq Ahmad, the accused Ahmadi youths, in FIR 553/14 in Police Station Peoples Colony, Gujranwala on July 28, 2014. If declared guilty, they could be imprisoned for 10 years.

Details of this disturbing event are available in Chapter 3A.

 Sentence of imprisonment under Ahmadi-specific law upheld by the Sessions Court

Vehari; April 5, 2014:            Mr. Muhammad Yasin and Mr. Abdul Latif had filed appeals in the Sessions Court against the judgment of a magistrate, dated 28.1.2010, whereby they had been sentenced to 2 years’ rigorous imprisonment and fine of Rs. 5000/- each under the anti-Ahmadiyya law PPC 298-C. The Sessions Court dismissed their appeals.

Briefly, in February 2005Mr. Muhammad Arshad, an Ahmadi religious teacher, under transfer, was moving his household belongings in a trolley when a gang of anti-Ahmadi zealots intercepted him on the road, took possession of his belongings including his religious books, notes and records, handed these over to the police and demanded that a criminal case be registered against Mr. Arshad and four other Ahmadis. The FIR accused Ahmadis of preaching their faith to “poor innocent Muslims on Hospital Road…and they fled throwing away their pamphlets and literature, which were presented in evidence by the accusers.”

The police, rather than arresting the activists who committed a sort of robbery, booked the Ahmadis.

Their trial dragged on for five years. Eventually three Ahmadis were sentenced to two years’ rigorous imprisonment and fine.

Two of the convicts of this fabricated case, later released on bail, filed an appeal against the magistrate’s decision. The judge upheld the previous verdict and directed the police to produce the two Ahmadis before jail authorities.

 

3 Ahmadis booked and arrested

Kallar Abadi, District Gujranwala; June 1, 2014:                A number of Ahmadi households are there in Kallar Abadi neighborhood of Gujranwala. On May 27, they celebrated a religious day in their prayer center, and held a seminar.

An ill-wisher reported the event to the police and persuaded them to register a criminal case under PPC 298-C, an anti-Ahmadi law. The police raided the prayer center and arrested the caretaker, Mr. Mubashir Ahmad. Thereafter they registered a case and named three Ahmadis, (1) Mr. Mubashir Ahmad (2) Mr. Khalid Mehmood and (3) Mr. Javaid Ahmad in the FIR.

It is learnt that the ‘complainant’ belongs to a Butt family who have a property dispute with the Ahmadi who owns the prayer center.

The case was registered in Police Station Baghbanpura, Gujranwala with FIR Nr. 547/14 on June 1, 2014 under PPC 298-C.

Initially Mr. Mubashir Ahmad, the caretaker of the prayer centre was arrested. The other two, Mr. Khalid Mahmud and Javaid Ahmad were arrested when they approached a court for bail before arrest. The post-arrest bail of Mubashir Ahmad was also denied.

A bail petition was then moved by the latter two detainees before Mr. Zamir Hussain Shah, Judicial Magistrate. He dismissed the petition under the ‘rule of consistency’ that the case of these two was no different than the first one. In fact he should have examined the case of the first one also and released all the three on bail.

Thereafter a plea for bail was made before the Sessions Court. It was heard on July 9. The prosecuting attorney took the line that the three accused had committed ‘blasphemy’ hence their plea should be rejected. This was absurd as the accused had not even been charged under a blasphemy clause but an anti-Ahmadi clause.

The sessions judge found it convenient to reject their plea. The accused had to approach the High Court to obtain bail in a case which would be thrown out in a fair court of law.

The three remained in prison.

 

Booked and arrested – for what?

Alam Garh, District Gujrat; November 27, 2014:    The locals in this village had been indulging for weeks in anti-Ahmadi activities like distribution of hate literature etc. Ahmadis had kept the police informed. Then the miscreants put up sectarian banners as well.

The police came to know of this development and proceeded to register a case under mild 16-MPO against three men and detained them.

In reaction, anti-Ahmadi elements took out a procession and proceeded to the police station where they threatened the police of violence. The police got intimidated and booked three Ahmadis in a counter FIR.

This case was registered under the anti-Ahmadi law PPC 298-C on November 27, 2014 in PS Daulat Nagar against Mr. Munir Ahmad, Mr. Faisal Ahmad and Mr. Salim Ahmad, Ahmadis, in FIR 358/14, and the police arrested them. In view of the volatile situation, they were shifted to a jail in Gujrat city. If declared guilty, they could be imprisoned for three years and fined any amount.

A delegation of Ahmadis accompanied by a group of upright local non-Ahmadis met the DPO who assured them fair proceedings.

Two days later the sectarian bigots took out a rally, shouted slogans against Ahmadis and indulged in provocative and hateful rhetoric.

 

Four Ahmadis charged with Blasphemy

Bhoiwal, Sharaqpur; May 13, 2014:             Four Ahmadis were charged here under a blasphemy law PPC 295-A. According to the details, the four allegedly protested against an objectionable poster and then tore it down from the wall of a local shopkeeper in their village, approximately 70 kilometers from Lahore.

A village Panchait intervened and the issue was settled. Later on, some mullas organized a demonstration and blocked the Lahore-Sharaqpur road for several hours to agitate and reignite the issue. They demanded exemplary punishment for the Ahmadis. They dispersed after senior police officials assured them of action against the accused.

The Ahmadis of the village felt very vulnerable after the incident and most of the families left their homes for fear of attack by the extremists. Meanwhile, the police registered a case against four Ahmadis, Mr. Mubashir Ahmad, Mr. Ghulam Ahmad, Mr. Khalil Ahmad and Mr. Ihsan Ahmad under clauses PPCs 295-A, 337-C and 427. The police launched raids and detained some other Ahmadis as well.

 

Religion used as tool for persecution

Haveli Lakha, District Okara; March 14, 2014:       A police case was registered against Mr. Muhammad Yar and his son-in-law Mian Waheed ul Hassan on March 14, 2014 under anti-Ahmadi clause PPC 298-C with FIR no. 224 in police station Haveli Lakha. Mr. Muhammad Yar is the president of the local Ahmadiyya community.

Mr. Yar’s family, comprising Ahmadis as well as non-Ahmadis, is politically strong in the village. They have links with more influential higher groups; but there are competing groups as well. Political rivalry led to confrontation and the police got involved. The opposing party found it convenient to invoke the anti-Ahmadi clause 298-C of the penal code against the Ahmadis only and other clauses against both non-Ahmadis and Ahmadis.

Mr. Yar was implicated earlier too in a false police case under PPC 298-C in 2006. Later he was acquitted in that case.

The police registered another FIR no. 228 under ATA 7 and PPC 324, 148 and 149 against Mr. Anas, Afzal alias Baggi, Ghulam Ali and three unknown persons. Mr. Anas Ahmad is an Ahmadi and a son of Mr. Muhammad Yar.

April 3 was the hearing date in the court for their release on bail. Approximately 30 mullas gathered inside the court room at the time of hearing. The judge expelled all the mullas from the court and postponed the hearing. After an hour approximately 30 lawyers appeared in the court in support of the opponent party to pressurize the judge. Mian Muhammad Yar requested for another date on account of his lawyer’s illness.

April 5 was given as the fresh date for hearing. At this occasion the judge rejected the plea for bail, ordered the arrest of the two Ahmadi accused and sent them to prison.

2013

Ahmadi doctor implicated falsely in a police case denied bail by a judge

Sant Nagar, Lahore; November/December, 2013:   The police arrested an Ahmadi Mr. Masood Ahmad, a septuagenarian homeopath, from his clinic and booked him under anti-Ahmadi clause PPC 298-C. This law carries three years’ imprisonment and fine.

Mulla Mohammad Ihsan lodged an application against him with police that Mr. Ahmad preached him when he went to him for medical advice. He presented the video recording of the proceedings with the doctor, as proof. The police registered an FIR no. 675 on November 25 against the homeopath.

In fact, the whole case was a planned conspiracy. The complainant came to the homeopath and turned the consultation to inquiry in faith matters. Mr. Ahmad, an old man could not sense the trick and replied the question, quoting from the Holy Quran. The mulla was armed with a hidden recording device. He presented that to the police as incriminating evidence.
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Mr. Ahmad was arrested and moved to the Camp Jail, Lahore. He holds UK nationality, as well.

        A non-Ahmadi lawyer, a former judge, volunteered to defend Mr. Ahmad in court. “It will always be a burden on me if I do not do that,” he said.

The magistrate, however, refused bail to Mr. Ahmad on November 30. He remained behind bars. A plea for his bail was then moved before a judge. The judge, despite the mitigating circumstances of the case refused the bail to the elderly doctor. He even echoed the state attorney that the evidence called for charges under PPC 295-A and 295-C. The former allows a trial in an anti-terrorism court, while under the latter clause the penalty is death. The Federal Shariat Court insists that it is nothing but death.

In the past the police and the courts generally did not accept such accusations where the accuser had himself approached an Ahmadi at his home or job to discuss faith matters.

It is noteworthy that while the political leadership repeatedly condemns sectarianism and extremism in public, it encourages its law officers to upgrade and intensify religious prosecution of Ahmadis. Also the honorable Supreme Court was quoted early this year on February 9, as, “The state should provide security to minorities, otherwise we shall do that”, but a lower judge, while hearing a plea for bail in a case of PPC 298-C shows the way to the authorities to charge the Ahmadi under the law that could lead him to gallows!

Last year the Chairman Moon Sighting Committee, a mulla, himself admitted: “We are drowned in ignorance and bigotry.”(The daily Aman; Faisalabad, December 5, 2012)