Administration and judiciary’s attitude
Careerist officials belonging to the administration and police find it convenient to go along with and even encourage the anti-Ahmadiyya elements in their acts of persecution. During the year, 80 Ahmadis were implicated in criminal cases on religious basis. Twelve Ahmadis were booked under the terrible Blasphemy Law to bring the running total to an impressive 199. There is also a tendency to register criminal cases against Ahmadis and implicate as many of them as possible by simply adding their names, even if they had little relevance to the case. Thus a large number can be prosecuted with the same legal and administrative effort. For example, in July, seven Ahmadis were detained by the police in district Sialkot. On June 12, four Ahmadis were booked under various clauses in district Sheikhupura in a false case. On June 21, three more were implicated at the same location. A case against 10 Ahmadis was registered at Ghatialian in a religious context in the same month. During May, a case was registered against 18 Ahmadis at Kunri (Sind) under the Anti-Ahmadiyya law. There were other cases as well.
Officials of the judiciary also play to the gallery. They are mindful of the demands of the establishment. Often they take the initiative to victimize the Ahmadis still further. There have been numerous occasions where magistrates and judges themselves added very grave changes under clauses PPC 295A and 295C to the charge sheet of Ahmadis who were accused of simpler violations of religious laws, thereby exposing them to the danger of long imprisonment and death penalty.
Quite often, Ahmadis who are subjected to religious terrorism are charged falsely under a suitable clause to prosecute them in an Anti-Terrorist Court. Mr. Ghulam Mustafa, an Ahmadi teacher was initially charged for preaching. Later, the more serious PPC 295A was added and the judge awarded him a total of 13 years’ imprisonment. On the other hand they are extraordinarily mild towards Ahmadi-bashers. In October 1997, a gang of five abducted an Ahmadi medical practitioner, hacked his body to pieces, stuffed it in a sack and threw it in a nearby stream. The murderers were arrested by the police. When contacted by the pressmen, they made proud confession of their act and declared that it was an act of great merit. Their interview was published. A few months later, the trial judge found them Not Guilty, and released them.
In Pakistan, there are not sufficient judges and courts to expeditiously hear and decide cases. As such, it normally takes weeks, even months and years to finally give a decision. In these circumstances, release of an accused on bail, while the trial is in progress, provides him great relief. Accused who are actually not guilty, or who have been nabbed in spurious or fabricated cases, look up to the courts to provide this relief immediately in the interest of justice. Ahmadis, unfortunately, are often deprived of this well-deserved right. Magistrates, trial judges and even appellate courts also, refuse them bails, and they have to unjustly suffer in prisons for offences they did not commit. This year, Ahmadis suffered numerous such excesses that are briefly mentioned below.
- Fifteen prisoners of the Naukot incident continue to suffer in prison, awaiting bail.
- Mr Ataulla Waraich, President of the local Ahmadiyya community of Chak 11 F.W; District Bahawalnagar was arrested by the police on 8 September 1999, for construction of an Ahmadiyya house of worship (although he built it on his own land) and the building of a minaret and a niche therein. The police also sealed the mosque. Mr Waraich was booked under section 298B. He could be imprisoned for three years.
The bail application of Mr. Waraich was rejected by Chaudhry Ghulam Rasul, Magistrate. Then it was put up before Mehr Mohammad Sial Arif, the Additional Session Judge, who also conveniently rejected it on 17 September 1999. Thereafter it was presented at the Bahawalpur High Court Bench, where Justice Nazir Akhtar dismissed it on 5 November 1999. He wrote his decision on 50 manuscript pages. Obviously, to justify an unreasonable act, one has to take great pains. Justice Akhtar is the same judge who is of the declared opinion that there is no need of any law to punish a man who is guilty of defiling the name of the Holy Prophet and anyone who commits blasphemy against the Prophet can be dispatched to hell (The Daily Jang, Lahore of September 5, 1999).
The judge quoted in his Decision that the Assistant Attorney General (representing the State) stated that:
–Qadianis are not entitled to build their places of worship like a traditional Muslim mosque.
-The Holy Quran, being the sacred book of Muslims, cannot be touched by the Qadianis or for that matter other non-Muslims who are not ‘Tahir’ nor clean or pure.
The judge, in an effort to show that ‘the bowl can be hotter than the soup’, added his own opinion in the following words:
The present case does not involve commission of an ordinary penal offence against one or more individuals but is an exceptional case involving commission of an offense against the society as a whole which may have national as well as international repercussions.
The judge, refusing the plea of the accused for release on bail, went on to specifically direct: ‘ I feel that the interests of justice would be adequately met if the trial court is directed to conclude the trial within a short period’. He then directed the trial court to conclude the case within a period of three months and to ‘conduct proceedings on day to day basis’.
It appears that some people have paid no attention to the policy speech of the Chief Executive, wherein he promised equal rights and status to the minorities in Pakistan.
- Mr Tahir Nadeem of Mirpur Khas (Sind) was arrested in August 1999 for putting on a T-shirt on which Kalima (Islamic creed) was written. He has been delivered to an Anti-terrorist court. He is in prison since then awaiting decision.
- Dr Ghani of Daska was arrested in September 1999 for preaching. His plea for bail has been rejected even by the High Court.
- Mr Mushtaq Saggoo of Khangarh was arrested in July 1999 on charge of preaching and was arrested. . He was also taken to an Anti-terrorist court. He has not been released on bail.
- Mr Bajwa of Pasroor was arrested in March 1999 on charge of preaching. The Blasphemy clause was added later. The poor fellow waited for nine months before he was released on bail.
- Mr Munir Ahmad of district Sialkot was arrested in September 1999 also for preaching. He was pushed to an Anti-terrorist Court where the judge refused him the bail. The High Court did the same. He has now approached the Supreme Court. In the meantime, he languishes in jail.
- Ahmadi leaders, Mirza Masroor Ahmad and Lieut. Colonel Ayaz (Retd), along with two of their colleagues were booked on a fabricated charge.
A new record at Kotri (Sind)
Mr Amanullah Khan, Ahmadi, of Kotri (Sind), was falsely framed in a criminal case under PPC 298C and 295A seven years ago on 1 August 1992. The case is in its final stage. It is perhaps interesting but surely disturbing to know that the case had gone on for 107 court appearances. Can anyone estimate the emotional cost in stress and strain paid by the victim in this case based upon nothing but falsehood and religious prejudice?