Prisoners of conscience
One face of Counter Terrorism Department in the Punjab
Arrest of good old Mr. Shakoor Bhai; imprisoned for (5+3) eight years
Police raided the only book-depot in Rabwah bazaar. Septuagenarian proprietor and a shop assistant arrested under terrorism law. Books, magazines, money in till, business stamp etc. confiscated. Expeditious trial held in Anti-terrorism court and harsh punishments awarded.
Rabwah; December 2, 2015: Officials of Punjab’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) accompanied by a contingent of the Elite Force raided Shakoor Bhai’s book shop, arrested Mr. Abdul Shakoor aka Shakoor Bhai and Mr. Mazhar Abbas shop assistant, a Shia, and drove them off to an unknown location. They took away some books and magazines, the cash and some prize bonds. They photographed the interior and the exterior of the book depot extensively. They paid for some periodicals, obtained a voucher, had it stamped and took away the stamp with them. It seems they never came across a softer, milder and a more peaceful terror suspect. They wasted the time and expense of the accompanying Elite Force.
A month later, an ATC judge, Raja Pervez Akhtar, after a speedy trial, sentenced Mr. Abdul Shakoor to 5 years’ imprisonment under 11-W ATA and 3 years under the anti-Ahmadiyya law PPC 298-C, and Rs 150,000 fine.
The books they took away included translated copies of the Holy Quran, a short commentary written by Khalifa tul Masih II of the Quran, Tazkarah tul Mehdi (Biography of the Founder of Ahmadiyyat), a special edition of the daily Alfazl, the monthly Misbah (Ahmadi women’s magazine) etc.
Most of the above material was banned by a sweeping order of the Punjab Government issued in August 2015. The order was issued on dictation of the Mutahiddah Ulama Board; any serious inquiry would show that it was malafide and a serious violation of Ahmadis’ basic and essential freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution.
This raid and arrests made by CTD were definitely counter to the basic declared policy objective of the creation of this department and the intent of the National Action Plan. Ahmadis will be happy if a high-level judicial commission (or committee) could examine the contents of the confiscated copies of the daily Alfazl and the monthly Misbah and dig deep to locate even a single entry in support of terrorism. And how Ahmadiyya translations of the Holy Quran could be ‘fit for banning’, by the Ulama Board, while these mullas and their peers and elders have been blaming Ahmadis for more than a century of ‘abrogation of Jihad’. Banning translations of the Quran to Ahmadis would be somewhat like banning the Bible to Jehova’s Witnesses in Europe or North America or the Book of Mormon in the state of Utah. Absurd – absolutely.
Here, one is reminded of the anti-Terrorism laws promulgated in 1990s. These laws were frequently used thereafter to prosecute Ahmadis who for the past 30 years are the most terrorized community in Pakistan.
Mr. Shakoor is a senior citizen – 78 year old. He is an optician in addition to being a book-seller. He is one of the most decent shop-keepers in the bazaar, so he is very popular even among his non-Ahmadi clients. Villagers from the suburbs of Rabwah make it a point to come to him for their glasses at low price, even free if a customer is poor or asks for a pair. His shop-assistant, arrested with him, is a non-Ahmadi. Surely, if Mr. Shakoor, an Ahmadi, was selling books that were provocative or highly objectionable to ‘Muslims’ Mr. Abbas would not be assisting him with sale of these books.
The case Investigation Officer behaved as if he had hit a bonanza. His endeavor was to broaden the easy investigation to implicate many others e.g. the authors etc. – some of them are dead since long.
Pakistani state claims to be involved in its ‘war on terror’. This raid involved the personnel of CTD, the Elite Force, the police personnel and required the time and effort of state prosecutors and magistrates and judges for weeks, even months – all this to hurt Shakoor Bhai, an innocent elder who would not consider harming a lamb; he himself being one.
The above is not opinion of a hurt partisan; the daily Mashriq, Lahore reported the opinion of Supreme Court judges in the following headlines, on July 4, 2015: If the provincial and federal authorities are really serious about war on terror and over implementation of the National Action Plan, they will have to face harder adversaries than harmless Shakoor Bhai who earns his bread peacefully and honestly in the open bazaar of Rabwah in broad daylight.
There is hardly any progress in implementation of the National Action Plan (Takay ka bhi kam nahin ho rahaa): Supreme Court
National Action Plan was a trick played upon people. It has become a joke: Justice Khawaja
NAP required a stop to funds for terrorists, but (such) NGOs are still being funded locally and from abroad. If you are unable to implement the NAP, accept that it was a paper exercise.
Provincial governments are in the same league in incompetence and incapability (ghair mustaidi): Justice Azmat Saeed
Now that the sentences have been announced by the Anti-Terrorism Court (the shop assistant was also sentenced 5 years’ imprisonment) it is for consideration that the two most harmless individuals have been put behind bars for years, while the government finds no case against mulla Abdul Aziz of the Lal Masjid, even to book him. The Supreme Court is perhaps right that the War on Terror is a joke and a trick played upon people.
Following is also noteworthy:
- The ATC judge in his Judgment used the pejorative term Qadiani for Mr. Abdul Shakoor, rather than Ahmadi.
- Shakoor has never been involved in any criminal case other than fabricated anti-Ahmadi and religion-based cases in the past. This shows his character and conduct.
- The judge noted in his judgment, right at the start that Mr. Shakoor was 78 years old. Despite his age and meticulous life-long conduct, he sentenced him to maximum imprisonment sentence under the anti-Ahmadiyya law and chose it to be ‘rigorous imprisonment’. Mazhar, the Shia also had a clean slate, and was helping with sale of books that denounce terrorism; still he was awarded 5 years’ imprisonment sentence under the Anti-terrorism Act.
- The main factor in this case was the highly unjustifiable and baseless ‘banning orders’ of the government of the Punjab and its unsupportable pursuit of those unworthy orders, in the fair name of counter-terrorism; this did not draw the attention of the prosecution nor the judge.
It should be reasserted for the benefit of the concerned authorities that Jamaat Ahmadiyya, despite the maltreatment it received from the state and the society in Pakistan, has not undertaken even a single act that could be called terrorist, in the last four decades.
Six Ahmadis arrested in religion-based case
Chak 109 GB, District Faisalabad; April 20, 2015: The construction work of local Ahmadiyya mosque remained interrupted for the last two years due to police intervention. There was no boundary wall on one side of the mosque, which became a serious security concern. The local Ahmadiyya community decided to build the wall to make the mosque safe. When 80% work was complete, the opponents called the police to the site, who stopped the work. The police took away Mr. Abdul Rauf, the president of the local Ahmadiyya community and another official, Mr. Ikram, and released them after interrogation.
On April 20, 2015 a gang of 20 men of Barelvi sect came to the mosque on motorcycles, indulged in intensive firing in the air, demolished the newly constructed wall and fled. Ahmadis telephoned 15 and called the police. The police called both the parties to the police station. After negotiations, at about 10 p.m. the police arrested five Ahmadis who had gone there to negotiate. These were Mr. Rafiq Kahlon, Mr. Abdul Rauf, Mr. Bilal Ahmad, Mr. Luqman Ajmal and Mr. Masood Ahmad. The police did not allow other Ahmadis to meet them. The police then raided the house of another Ahmadi, Mr. Ikram and arrested him too.
Thereafter the police registered an FIR against 13 nominated and 10 unknown Barelvis and the six Ahmadis mentioned above and five unnamed, under CrPC 148, 149, 324/337-H, 7-ATA and 16-MPO.
This case raises some basic questions:
- Does the Islamic Republic cater for the wishes of the majority denomination only or do the ‘others’ have some rights too?
- Why the Ahmadis were not allowed to complete construction of their place of worship?
- Who was responsible to require the wide gap in the outer protection wall remain open?
- Was it a criminal offence to secure the place of worship as required by general official instructions these days?
- On what basis the peaceful Ahmadis were booked in the same FIR along with the opponents who had come to raid their place, fired shots and damaged Ahmadis’ place of worship?
- Why the raider gang was not booked under PPC 295: Injuring or defiling place of worship?
- Ahmadis had called the police on 15 to help. Is this the kind of help the Punjab Police in Faisalabad provides to victims of an organised attack?
- Which police manual instructs that the attacking party and their victims should be treated at par?
- Is the treatment of Ahmadi victims in this case in accord with the basic intent of the ongoing National Action Plan?
Never-ending prosecution of Ahmadis
Prosecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan often lingers on for years. This spoils precious years of their lives. Of numerous such cases, two recent ones are given below.
Mangat Uncha, District Hafizabad: This village has a sizeable Ahmadiyya community; this made it a target of the district-level anti-Ahmadi leadership, who succeeded in year 2004 to have a fabricated criminal case registered against three Ahmadis under a blasphemy clause PPC 295-B.
A year later, on November 12, 2005 a judge acquitted two of the accused, Ch. Shahadat Ali and Mr. Hafiz ur Rahman, and awarded life imprisonment to the third Ahmadi, Mr. Mansur Ahmad.
Mr. Mansur Ahmad, being innocent of the crime of defiling the Holy Quran, appealed to the Lahore High Court against the decision of the trial judge. The LHC ordered his release on bail on May 30, 2007. He was allowed to go home on June 16, 2007 – after almost two and half years of incarceration.
The opposition appealed against the LHC decision. Eight years later, the court gave April 15, 2015 as the date of hearing the petition. As such, Mr. Mansur Ahmad has suffered state prosecution till to-date for 11 years on a fabricated accusation which should have been thrown out by the police after initial investigation. On October 21, 2015 the high court rejected his bail and ordered re-arrest.
Haveli Majoka, District Sargodha; October 2015: Three Ahmadis Mr. Muhammad Qasim Majoka, Mr. Mazahir Ahmad and Mr. Ahmad Yar were wrongfully implicated in a police case under PPC 295-C and 298-C on October 8, 2010.
- The police struck off the PPC 295-C after initial investigation, and sent the case to the court. On October 14, 2010 the sessions court rejected the plea for bail of the first two Ahmadis and sent them to jail. The third Ahmadi, Mr. Ahmad Yar was acquitted.
- On November 24, 2010 the two Ahmadis, Mr. Muhammad Qasim Majoka and Mr. Mazahir Ahmad were released on bail while the prosecution continued.
- On February 10, 2014 the court sentenced Mr. Muhammad Qasim Majoka to two years’ imprisonment under the anti-Ahmadi law and fined him thirty thousand rupees. He was arrested from the court room. Later he was released on bail on February 15, 2014.
- On October 22, 2015 a higher court heard the case. The opponent asked for reinstatement of the blasphemy clause PPC 295-C, while Ahmadis appealed against the awarded sentence. The court rejected the appeals of both the parties and upheld the sentence of Mr. Majoka. The police arrested him and sent him to jail.
Mr. Majoka has entered sixth year of prosecution in this fabricated case.
Incarceration of an innocent youth
Gujranwala: Last year an anti-Ahmadi riot took place here on July 27, 2014 over a false report that Mr. Aqib Saleem, an Ahmadi had committed blasphemy by disfiguring a picture of the Sacred Mosque in Makka, on the Facebook. As a result of loot and arson, in addition to extensive loss of property, three Ahmadi females died due to asphyxiation. All the Ahmadi residents of the neighborhood had to flee from homes for safety, and for months the authorities did little to rehabilitate them in their homes. None of the criminals, who committed grave crimes or initiated the riots, even though some of them were named in the FIR, were brought to justice for months.
Mr. Aqib Saleem was falsely accused of blasphemy and booked under PPC 295-A, 324 and 8/11 WATA on July 28, 2014. He was arrested on August 6, 2014. This was done by the police only to placate mullas. Although he was innocent his bail application was rejected many times and the painful prosecution lingered on for a whole year. He was denied the well-deserved relief of release on bail. An honourable judge Ch. Imtiaz Ahmad acquitted him on August 15, 2015
Two rioters Muhammad Jameel alias Fauji and Sajjad Gul were at the forefront of the riot. They were named in the FIR. The police arrested them but on April 20, 2015 the Lahore High Court accepted their pleas for bail although Ahmadi lawyers presented plenty of evidence on their criminal participation in the riot.
Ahmadi sentenced to one year’s imprisonment and fine
Mankeerah, District Bhakkar; May 20, 2015: Mr. Mansur Ahmad was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment and Rs. 20,000/- fine by Mr. Afzal Majoka, Magistrate in Mankeerah, under the anti-Ahmadiyya law PPC 298-C. Mr. Ahmad was thereafter detained by the police and sent to prison.
Approximately two years ago, two individuals had an argument with Mr. Ahmad at the local Milk Collection Centre. They reported the incident to a mulla who approached the police, threatened them with disturbances and got an FIR registered against the elderly Mansur.
Subsequently at the trial stage the two individuals, the primary witnesses as well as the milk-dealer who had been allegedly proselytized decided not to show up. The complainant mulla was not an eye-witness to the incident. This was brought to the notice of the judge who by queer reasoning decided that the appearance of the primary witnesses was not essential, and he used his discretion to accept that the prosecution was able to prove its case against the accused.
Thus the verdict.
Detention and torture by police of an innocent Ahmadi
Bhari Shah Rehman, Gujranwala; February/March 2015: Mr Luqman Shahzad, Ahmadi was murdered here for his faith on December 27, 2014. The likely killer, Gulfam was arrested by the police two months later on February 27, 2015. In his confessional statement he added that although he himself killed Mr Sahzad, he did so on advice of the victim’s mother (a non-Ahmadi) and was provided the weapon by Mr Mukhtar Ahmad (an Ahmadi). This was a false input.
The SHO demanded that Mr Mukhtar Ahmad present himself to the police. As the police often inflict torture to extract information, Mr Ahmad being innocent had nothing to convey, so he avoided to voluntarily present himself. At this the SHO high-handedly detained three Ahmadis, Mr Muhammad Yusuf, Mr Mubarak Ahmad and Mr Abid Nawaz, took them to the police station, handled them badly and conveyed that they would be released only if Mr Mukhtar Ahmad was produced before the police.
The SHO was contacted through a third party to whom the SHO conveyed that if Mr Ahmad was innocent, he would not be harmed, or detained. At this, Mr Ahmad reported to the police on March 9, 2015.
The SHO held Mr Ahmad in the police station for a day and then transported him to an unknown location. There was no news of him for the next five days and the police refused to divulge his whereabouts. This got his near and dear ones very worried about his safety and well-being.
Accordingly, Ahmadi elders called on the CPO, a very senior police officer, and informed him of the situation and innocence of Mr Ahmad. The CPO obtained a report on the results of the investigation and informed the delegation that Mr Ahmad could be contacted anytime.
The next day Mr Ahmad was released by the SHO. He told his relatives that he had been severely tortured by the police and had physical injuries as a result. He got himself medically examined and was admitted in a hospital. It is relevant to mention that in a similar incident in March 2012 a prominent Ahmadi teacher died of police torture in Rabwah.
On the day of Mr Ahmad’s release, the police arrested the killer’s brother and another accomplice for abetting the murder.
Two Ahmadis arrested again – on pretentions of ‘impartiality’
Aalam Garh, District Gujrat; February 09, 2015: On 27 November 2014, a case was registered against Mr Munir Ahmad, Mr Faisal Shehzad and Mr Saleem Ahmad, Ahmadis, under PPC 298-C.
Earlier anti-Ahmadi bullies distributed anti-Ahmadiyya literature and put up banners in the area to create sectarian unrest, at which Ahmadis got an FIR registered with police who arrested three of the opponents. The miscreants protested strongly against the arrests and pressurized the police. Succumbing to the pressure the police registered a counter FIR against the above mentioned three Ahmadis on 27 November 2014. They were arrested and later released on bail on December 03, 2014.
All this disturbed the peace of the village, as desired by the mullas. The police consequently proceeded to register a case against 4 named and many un-named individuals under Anti-Terrorism Act 8 and 9. By some strange logic, understood only by the police, they included two Ahmadis Mr Faisal Shehzad and Mr Munir Ahmad in the charge sheet and arrested them. It is queer justice whereby the aggressors and their victims are both punished.
Malafide severe harassment of rural Ahmadis by officials
These three reports deserve a place on record as examples of misuse by lower officials of a well-intentioned higher directive, to further persecute the Ahmadis.
The Government of Punjab issued a Security of Vulnerable Establishments Ordinance 2015 and the local police issued orders to Ahmadiyya mosques as well to comply with its requirements. That was good; but any village community in Pakistan would need time to arrange funds and to undertake purchases and install devices like CCTV cameras, provide a four-wall boundary, construct obstacles, make trenches etc. The police, however, cared little, followed up their notices immediately and booked the Ahmadi caretakers or community leaders for non-compliance. This was ‘very poor governance’. Compliance with such directives cannot be undertaken as if by pressing a button. These incidents remind one of 1990’s when the government promulgated the Anti-terrorism Act, but started booking Ahmadis under clauses like PPC 295-A which facilitate trial and punishment in an Anti-terrorism court.
Reports were received from the following three locations:
- Chak No. 427-TDA, District Layya: The police issued orders to Ahmadis to complete the boundary four-walls of their mosque on 26 April 2015, and required this to be done by the next day, the 27th April. The police sent for Mr. Bashir Ahmad, who was then booked and arrested.
- Chak No. 170-TDA, District Layya: A somewhat similar incident happened here. The police made a surprise raid at the personal property where Mr. Tariq and his family offered prayers. Mr. Tariq had received no notice regarding any security improvements. At the time of the police raid, Mr. Tariq was away. The police booked him, anyway.
The above mode of harassing a citizen by police is nothing but tyranny, and deserves to be condemned without reservations. It is most unbecoming for a democratic state.
Mr. Tariq had to rush to a court to seek bail to avoid arrest by the heedless ruthless police. Imagine his stress.
The court granted him bail.
- Joia, Goth Ahmadiyya, District Khushab: A notice was sent to Mr. Munawwar Din on March 28, 2015 to implement 9 measures to improve security in the village mosque. Four days later Mr. Din was booked by the police on 2 April 2015, for failure to comply.
A baseless agitation by mullas
Tatta Pani, Kotli, Azad Kashmir; March/April, 2015: Some mullas here complained to police that Chaudhary Amjad, an Ahmadi had defiled the picture of their Pir (spiritual leader) on Facebook, so he should be arrested. The police readily registered an FIR and arrested Mr. Amjad under PPC 295-A and 155-A on March 27, 2015. The mullas chose to remain infuriated despite the action of the police and created disturbance and agitation in the city. The Pir is an influential figure of this area. Many well-placed individuals and a large population are his followers. The Pir was in the UK at the time.
The agitators thereafter planned to take out a big rally. At this the Pir was contacted in UK and was informed through his aides that this was a conspiracy and Ahmadis do not indulge in such activities. The Pir talked to his followers on phone and told them not to hold the rally. Thus the rally did not come out. However the miscreants still tried to incite the public and kept the pot simmering.
Mr. Amjad stated that he has not done anything of which he is accused. The police were asked to seek expert opinion. Initial investigations suggested Mr. Amjad’s innocence.
In another incidence in the city, the opponents held a rally and erased the title of Haji (one who performs pilgrimage to Makkah) from the name plate of an Ahmadi. Ahmadis were told not to open their shops until the matter was resolved.
Quetta; March 15, 2015: The police detained Mr Mahmud Ahmad at about 8:45 p.m. from a house near an Ahmadiyya mosque in Quetta. This mosque was sealed by the police almost 30 years ago in 1986. It has remained sealed ever since and Ahmadis have faced great difficulties in congregating for worship.
The police took Mr Ahmad to the police station. Ahmadis approached the police in the follow-up and got him released after submitting an ‘undertaking’.
The detention was baseless and unlawful.
Mullas hassle the court
Kalar Abadi, Gujranwala; May 20, 2015: On May 27, 2014, Ahmadis 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 center and arrested Mr. Mubashir Ahmad. Thereafter they registered a case on June 02, 2014 and named three Ahmadis, Mr. Mubashir Ahmad, Mr. Khalid Mahmood and Mr. Javed Ahmad in the FIR. They remained in prison for more than 4 months. Their case is however still active. On a hearing on May 20, 2015, the plaintiff brought approximately 25 mullas with him to the court. During the statements, when the mullas felt that the statements were going against them, they created much uproar. Meanwhile their lawyer told the mullas, “Catch them and kill them.” Many lawyers gathered there and they also supported the mullas. However the witnesses were whisked away discreetly. The judge was a woman; she took no action against the rowdies and remained uncaring. She gave May 27, 2015 as the next date of hearing.
Ahmadis behind bars on 31 December
- A baseless case was registered against four Ahmadis, Messrs. Khalil Ahmad, Ghulam Ahmad, Ihsan Ahmad and Mubashir Ahmad of Bhoiwal, District Sheikhupura under PPCs 295-A, 337-2 and 427 on May 13, 2014 in police station Sharaqpur. Mr. Khalil Ahmad was then murdered by a madrassah student, while in police custody on May 16, 2014. The remaining three accused were arrested on July 18, 2014. They are in prison. Their bails were cancelled.
- A fabricated case was registered against Mr. Tahir Mahdi Imtiaz, printer of the Ahmadiyya monthly Ansarullah, in Millat Town police station Lahore on April 16, 2014. He was arrested by the police on March 30, 2015 under the blasphemy clause PPC 295-A and anti-Ahmadiyya law PPC 298-C. A high court judge announced his bail but refused to sign the decision later. Thereafter a 2-member bench of LHC refused him bail. He remains in prison. His plea was heard by a two-member bench of the Supreme Court that withheld grant of the bail.
- Qasim Majoka was wrongfully implicated in a religion-based police case under PPC 295-C and 298-C along with other two Ahmadis. The police removed the deadly PPC 295-C in initial investigation and sent the case to the court. On February 10, 2014 the court sentenced Mr. Muhammad Qasim Majoka to two years’ imprisonment under the anti-Ahmadi law and fined him thirty thousand rupees. He was arrested from the court room. Later he was released on bail on February 15, 2014. On October 22, 2015 a higher court heard the case and upheld the sentence of Mr. Majoka. The police arrested him and sent him to jail.
- Qamar Ahmad was charged under PPC 295-B for alleged desecration of the Holy Quran in Jhelum, and was arrested on November 20, 2015. Bigots attacked the factory and Ahmadis’ houses after his arrest and set them on fire after looting the valuables.
- Officials of Punjab’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) accompanied by a contingent of the Elite Force raided Shakoor Bhai’s book shop in Rabwah, arrested Mr. Abdul Shakoor aka Shakoor Bhai and Mr. Mazhar Abbas shop assistant on December 2, 2015. A speedy trial in an Anti-terrorism court dispensed 5 years’ imprisonment to each of the two accused, while Mr. Shakoor Bhai was sentenced in addition to three years’ imprisonment under the anti-Ahmadiyya law.
Enormity in Jhelum
Jhelum; November 21, 2015: Mr Qamar A Tahir was falsely accused of defiling the Quran in an Ahmadiyya-owned chipboard factory. He was booked under PPC 295-B and arrested.
The grave Bhoiwal Case
Bhoiwal, District Sheikhupura: Four Ahmadis were wrongfully charged here under a blasphemy law PPC 295-A in May 2014. They had protested against an objectionable and provocative anti-Ahmadi poster and had allegedly torn it down from the wall of a shop. The mullas mounted a major campaign for police action against Ahmadis and threatened law and order. The police, rather than proceeding against the publishers of the hateful poster, booked the Ahmadis and detained one of them, Mr. Khalil Ahmad.
Three days later, while Mr Khalil Ahmad was detained in the police lock-up, an armed youth from a nearby madrassah, run by a banned outfit, entered the police station and shot him dead.
Thus a great wrong was done, and the police must have felt ashamed over it. As a result the other three accused Ahmadis wrongfully booked were granted temporary bail.
The sympathy did not last long, and the system yielded soon to the pressure of clerics. On a hearing on July 18, 2014, the sessions court cancelled their bail, and they were arrested.
The accused then filed a bail petition in the Lahore High Court. This petition is lingering in the high court since then. The hearings are being postponed repeatedly, prolonging the ordeal of the accused. The opposition uses delaying tactics to prolong the suffering of the victims. The state attorney opposes the bail, although the government’s declared policy is to suppress sectarianism. It is obvious that Ahmadis are an exception and sectarian drive against them is considered kosher.
The case of Mr Khalil’s murder is also pending in the sessions court. The killer of Mr Khalil Ahmad was charged for murder and also under the anti-terrorism law ATA-7. The Anti-terrorist court, for reasons best known to it, removed the ATA-7 clause from the charge sheet.
This is how the system treats the religious zealots and their victims in Pakistan.
The three Ahmadis are now in prison for one and a half year for allegedly tearing a hostile sectarian poster. They were booked under PPC 295-A, under which the penalty is 10-year imprisonment. One of their co-accused was murdered while in police custody. Their plea for bail is being postponed on flimsy grounds by a judiciary that has released Hafiz Saeed and Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi on bail.
Painful judicial handling of a police-case of an Ahmadi pressman
Lahore: Mr. Tahir Mahdi Imtiaz, printer of the Ahmadiyya monthly Ansarullah, was arrested by the police on March 30, 2015 in a Lahore court premises where he had gone to seek confirmation of bail in another case. He is ‘printer’ of various other publications as well.
Mr. Imtiaz was wrongfully implicated in a fabricated case registered with Millat Town police under the blasphemy clause PPC 295-A and the anti-Ahmadiyya 298-C on behest of mullas, more than a year ago.
It should be mentioned that the case against Mr. Imtiaz is pure fabrication, registered on private complaint of a mulla, with reference to a monthly that contained no objectionable text, still the judge refused to accept the bail of the accused. Also noteworthy is the fact that the state prosecutor objected to the bail, although the Supreme Court is on record to have directed: “The state should provide security to minorities, otherwise….” The daily Nawa-i-Waqt; Lahore, February 9, 2013
March 30, 2015 Mr. Imtiaz was detained by the police; remanded for three days.
The prosecution has not pointed in any court any content of the related Ansarullah issue that is blasphemous. Still the judges, who should have released the innocent pressman on first hearing, or later on appeal, have not granted him even release on bail. An abridged chronology of this case is given below; the progress of events would be of interest to any human rights activist:
After the remand Sent to prison in judicial custody
April 8, 2015 Judge heard for 5 days his plea for bail and rejected it.
April 22, 2015 Sessions court rejected the plea for bail.
May 28, 2015 A Lahore High Court (LHC) judge expressed inability to proceed with the case and referred it to the Chief Justice.
June 16, 2015 LHC shifted the hearing to June 18.
June 22, 2015 The next hearing date was shifted to July 6.
July 13, 2015 Case heard by LHC judge. Declared verbally the acceptance of bail. Later, when presented the decision for signing, he did not sign, and declared that he’ll hear the case further on July 15.
July 15, 2015 The said judge decided to refer the case to the Chief Justice with recommendation that a 2-member bench should hear the plea for bail.
The chief justice Manzur Ahmad Malik appointed Justice Mazhar Iqbal Sindhu and Justice Shahram Sarwar Chaudhry on the division bench to hear the plea.
August 6, 2015 The said bench rejected the plea for bail, added Anti-terrorism clause 8-W ATA to the case and sent it to an anti-terrorism court.
December 08, 2015 Two-member bench of Supreme Court did not grant Mr. Imtiaz’s plea for bail.
December 31, 2015 Mr. Tahir Mahdi Imtiaz, the printer of the Ahmadiyya daily and periodicals continues to suffer behind bars without having been found guilty of any crime.
This is what Ahmadis often face in the judicial domain in Pakistan. They are implicated in false cases on religious grounds and find it extremely difficult even to get release on bail for the duration of the trial. Even pressmen do not get any relief, although the state is committed to grant the basic ‘freedom of expression’. ‘Freedom of press’ is available to all excpt Ahmadis.
Some impartial NGO or eminent journalist should look into this case in depth and place on record a fair opinion on current role of the state and society in handling an Ahmadi’s court case.
The above is important in view of the State’s apparent commitment to the ongoing National Action Plan, the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment announced on June 19, 2014 and various claims of politicians in power that ‘The Quaid’s vision to safeguard minorities’ rights are being pursued’.