Religiously Motivated Murders – 2000

2000

 

Five Ahmadis murdered at Ghatialian

A group of anti-Ahmadi extremists sprayed bullets with automatic weapons on Ahmadi worshippers at their local mosque in Ghatialian (Khurd), District Sialkot, the Punjab . As a result, five Ahmadis died and six were injured.

It is learnt that a car was noticed to arrive Ghatialian in the early hours of the morning on October 30, while it was still dark. Ahmadi worshipers came to the mosque for their morning prayers. After the service, at about 6 A.M. when the first worshipper came out of the building, he was hit by a man at the door who pushed him back into the prayer hall. Then two attackers rushed inside and opened up bursts from a rapid-fire weapon on Ahmadis present there. In all, eleven victims were hit. Two of them, Mr Iftikhar and Mr Shehzad, died on the spot.

The intruders had parked their car approximately one hundred yards away from the mosque, and two of their colleagues had remained behind in the car, ready for escape. The attackers returned to the car, and they sped away from the scene of their crime.

The mosque presented a bloody sight after the attack. There was blood all over. Prayer mats got soaked with blood. There was blood in the courtyard as well, as the injured were moved out. The locals hurriedly arranged some transport to take the injured to Narowal for medical aid. While on the way, Mr Ataulla expired. As medical facilities were inadequate at Narowal, the injured were shifted to Lahore. While in transit, Mr Abbas and Mr Ghulam Muhammad also succumbed to their injuries thus bringing the total of dead to five. That left behind six injured. They lived, but not due to any lack of effort by the fundamentalists. They intended to kill them all. Authorities handed over dead bodies to the relatives by the end of the day after necessary formalities.

The strike at Ghatialian was not a bolt from the blue for the administration. It knew all along that during the year District Sialkot had generally become a hot bed of anti-Ahmadiyya activities. However no preventive action was taken by authorities to contain the mulla. Religious extremists had raised claim to a number of Ahmadiyya mosques in the district. They damaged one at Koorakot. Another mosque at Merajke was handed over to them by authorities. Reconstruction of Ahmadiyya mosque at Sialkot Cantt was ordered to be stayed. Fundamentalists also implicated many Ahmadis in criminal cases under religious laws. In this, they received ready help from authorities.

In the district, criminal cases based on religion, were registered against 20 Ahmadis this year. Although Ahmadis are accused of preaching which falls under PPC 298 C, but PPC

295 A was applied so as to haul them to Anti-Terrorist Special Courts. Mr Munir Ahmad of Satra has not been granted bail, and is in prison for over one year under such a fabrication. Messers Abdul Jabbar, Mian Fazil and Asad Zahur were also put behind bars on religious charges. All this adds abundantly to mutual tension.

Social environment is continuously polluted and poisoned by mullas who enjoy unrestrained freedom in fanning the fires of communal hatred. Extensive anti-Ahmadiyya literature is distributed all over the district. It not only contains slander and insults, it exhorts common Muslims to take violent action against Ahmadis as an act of great religious merit.  On the day of the incident, Maulvi Azam Tariq, Patron of the Sipah Sahaba, while addressing a conference in Chak 20 Ghugh, stated: No Qadiani will be spared, if the violence erupts again (The Daily Jang, Lahore; 1 November 2000). Also, on 30 October, mullas of Khatme Nabuwwat organization had planned an open-air conference near Ghatialian. The vernacular press provides the mulla ample undeserved coverage in its newspapers. Politicians like Kalsum Nawaz also wanted to cash the religious cheque; she agitated the public mind on Ahmadiyya issue. Members of the judiciary, like Justices Nazir Akhtar and Mughal of Lahore High Court, unashamedly issued statements that are license to murder. The government has adopted the policy of appeasement of the Mulla, and the bureaucracy is aware of it. As a result, no preventive effort is made. Authorities, however, cannot escape their responsibility; they failed to take obvious remedial measures.

The police issued statement that this incident could be the result of an earlier incident in which a non-Ahmadi was killed by an Ahmadi. This was highly misleading. In fact, no Ahmadi was ever charged by the police of  that non-Ahmadi’s murder.

Extensive anti-Ahmadiyya literature is distributed all over the district. It not only contains slander and insults, it exhorts the common Muslim to take up violence against Ahmadis as an act of great religious merit.

A few days after the incident, three men were arrested. The police claimed that the vehicle and the weapons used in the incident had also been recovered, however the fourth individual was not caught. The police announced that the culprits were RAW agents, however, there is confirmed report that their gang leader stated during the investigation that he was an office bearer of a Jihadi group and he had organized the attack to serve the cause of religion.

 

Five Ahmadis killed at Takht Hazara

A violent mob attacked the Ahmadiyya Mosque at Takht Hazara in District Sargodha, Punjab, killed five Ahmadis present there, ransacked the mosque and set it on fire in the early hours of the night on Friday, the 10th November 2000.

For more than a year, the anti-Ahmadiyya faction had been busy in Takht Hazara in generating communal unrest and tension. A mulla, Athar Shah, protégé of the notorious Mulla Akram Toofani (the adopted name ‘Toofani’ literally means ‘cyclone’) of Sargodha, had been posted in the village, with the only object of spreading sectarian hatred. Last year, he damaged and desecrated graves at the Ahmadiyya graveyard on 5 September 1999. He displayed in the village abusive posters.  He would gather street urchins and move around in bands chanting anti-Ahmadiyya provocative slogans in streets. Ahmadis approached the authorities who advised them to remain calm and bear up with the hardship. This mulla also initiated litigation to deprive Ahmadis of their mosque and their Centre. The court decided in Ahmadis’ favour.

Athar Shah reportedly is a drug addict and drug peddler. He was quite successful at maintaining communal tension at high level. On November 10, he led a group of miscreants armed with sticks, axes and firearms, and marched through the streets of the village chanting provocative slogans and shouting slander and insults. Ahmadis maintained their calm and refused to react. These agents provocateurs then came to the Ahmadiyya Mosque.

Athar Shah and his gang continued with their provocation and made another aggressive visit to the Ahmadiyya mosque. It seems they had a plan and were intent upon a serious clash. They precipitated an altercation at the Ahmadiyya mosque, in which Athar Shah was hurt. This was promptly followed by a call on loudspeakers of all the town mosques to everyone to head for the Ahmadiyya mosque. As the situation had become serious, Ahmadis informed the police. Soon a violent mob assembled and raided its target. A few Ahmadis who were present in the mosque bolted the door from inside. The mob broke open the door, demolished the outer wall and rushed in. The armed miscreants overwhelmed the few defenders. Four Ahmadis were murdered on the spot, including the President of the local Ahmadiyya Community. The fifth, a youth of 14 years, died later in the hospital. 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 to their kin.

The police arrived when all was over, although Ahmadis had informed them and requested their intervention  before the situation had taken an ugly turn. The vernacular press presented the incident as a sectarian clash, although it was a preplanned one-sided aggression. The mere fact that all the casualties occurred within the Ahmadiyya mosque is ample proof against the story propagated by these newspapers. They reported that two non-Ahmadis were also killed. No non-Ahmadi was killed. It was baseless propaganda, and was a deliberate effort to mislead their readers. Even Mulla Athar Shah is alive.

In less than a fortnight, 10 Ahmadis were murdered in their mosques in the province of Punjab. Both the locations selected for the attack were those where Ahmadiyya population is considerable. It seems the conspirators plan to provoke Ahmadis, as that would suit their nefarious religious and political designs. [The news that the central leadership of the International Khatme Nabuwwat called an All Parties Conference for 15 November 2000 (The Daily Jang, Lahore; Nov 12, 2000) is a pointer to their designs.] Authorities, as usual, despite plenty of early warning, purposely decide not to take any preventive action. At Takht Hazara, a formal application had been submitted by Ahmadis to the Deputy Commissioner in October last year and another one recently, on November 4, 2000 informing him of the ugly communal situation and requesting him to take suitable action. The bloody riot of November 10 speaks volumes on the inadequacy and ineffectiveness of the official action on Ahmadiyya requests.

Following are the names of the Ahmadi dead:

1.         Mr Muhammad Arif, age 30, married, two small children

2.         Mr Muhammad Nazir, age 60, married, six children

3.         Mr Nasir Ahmad, age 39, President of the local Ahmadiyya Community, married, two          small children

4.         Mr Mubarak Ahmad, age 15

5.         Mr Mudassar Ahmad, age 14, schoolboy

After the incident a murder case was registered by the police. A counter application against 51 Ahmadis including 5 who were complainants and witnesses of the killings was filed by the opponents. Based on this, the police registered an FIR. The police proceeded against these 5 Ahmadis under PPC 365/295A, 324, 148/149, and arrested them. They were presented before  an Anti-Terrorist Special Court where their pleas for bail were rejected. They are now behind bars. The police have taken action against 21 other Ahmadis under section 107/157. The mulla must be laughing. He murdered 5 Ahmadis, and then got dozens of innocent and afflicted Ahmadis implicated in criminal cases, pushing some to the Anti-Terrorist Court that refused to confirm their Bails. What a state!

 

Dr. Shamsul Haq of Faisalabad

Dr. Shamsul Haq, a renowned orthopaedic surgeon, was shot dead at night on January 17, 2000 in Faisalabad. He departed from Sahil Hospital at about 10 p.m. and was found dead an hour later in his car at Khurrianwala Road. His hands and feet had been tied with a rope, and he was shot through the head.

Religious extremists had been openly active in Faisalabad for the previous many weeks. Authorities did not deal with them with a firm hand, instead complied with their demands and sealed the Ahmadiyya prayer center at Khyaban Colony.

Mullahs started a disinformation campaign to confuse the inquiry. According to them the doctor was a good man and was lately thinking of conversion to Islam; his Ahmadi wife did not like his inclinations and arranged her husband’s murder. This theory, besides being ridiculous, is indicative of the crooked conspiratorial thinking of the Mulla.

According to the police intelligence itself, extremist elements had plans to hit selected Ahmadi individuals after Eid. The police knew the identity of this gang of terrorists, but failed to take preventive measures.

Dr Haq was an able doctor and a charitable person. He provided free medical advice and care to many at charitable institutions. He left behind a widow, three small children and an aged father.

 

Mr Abdul Latif of Shikhupura

Mr Abdul Latif, another Ahmadi was added on June 8, 2000 to the long list of Ahmadis murdered only for Their Faith in Pakistan. He died of shot wounds inflicted by anti-Ahmadi fundamentalists at village Chak 18, Bhauru, District Sheikhupura, that had been a hot bed of anti-Ahmadiyya agitation for more than a year. An article ‘Life at Bhauru Village’ described well the situation there in our 1999 Annual Report.

The tempo of agitation at Bhauru had been kept up by the opposition all along. Only ten days before the murder incident, the extremists invited notorious mullas like Allah Yar Arshad, Akram Toofani and Mr. Shahkoti of Khatme Nabuwwat organization from other districts, who came and made fiery, slanderous and provocative speeches at Bhauru. They preached and promoted violence.

On the day of the incident, some youth subjected an Ahmadi, Mr Shoaib, to a beating. The victim’s mother tried to help him, but only exposed herself to violence. Some other Ahmadis arrived at the scene, and the opposition opened fire with firearms. As a result Mr Abdul Latif was shot at twice and killed, while three other Ahmadis were wounded. In self-defense a few Ahmadis returned the fire and some attackers were wounded, although none fatally. The fighting spread and continued for sometime. The police arrived late in the evening and made some arrests. The dead body of the Ahmadi was taken to the police station where an FIR was lodged. The opposition also applied for a case to be registered against Ahmadis.

Although, the opposition initiated the mischief and the violence, and murdered an Ahmadi, the police and the administration took action against the victimized community. Case No. 155/2000 was registered against 31 Ahmadis at the Sangla Hill police station on 16 June, 2000 under various sections of the Penal Code, at the accusation of a leading mulla of the Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat Organization. Another case was registered against these Ahmadis by the police itself, under 16 MPO. Seven Ahmadis including the president of the local community were arrested by the police and detained at the Mananwala police station.

The authorities all along knew about the activities of the religious extremists in the village. A firm preventive action by the former could have prevented the murder of an innocent Ahmadi. It is also awful that the authorities cracked down upon the victims of aggression and violence. This was perpetrated in the past at Chak Sikandar, Nankana, Naukot, and now repeated at Bhauru. Such behavior by the administration defies comment.

Harassment of the Ahmadiyya Community at Bhauru at the hands of the police and authorities continued months after the incident. Four of the detained Ahmadis continue to suffer in prison awaiting trial, as they have been refused Bail after arrest.

 

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