Sentenced Under Religious Laws
Ahmad-specific and other punitive religious laws remained some of the most actively used laws in the land during the year. Courts continue to uphold them and often apply them vigorously as if with a vengeance. Numerous Ahmadis were sentenced to years of imprisonment under these laws, some of them to multiple life imprisonments.
Justice at Hyderabad – Taliban Style
Two Ahmadis, each sentenced to 118-year imprisonment
Blasphemy Law takes its toll
Anti-Terrorism Judge, Mr Abdul Ghafur Memon, Hyderabad sentenced two Ahmadis, Nazir Ahmad and Allah Rakhio to 118 years imprisonment and Rs. 40,000 fine each under the Blasphemy Law, anti-terrorism law and other clauses related to religion on December 10, 2001.
The news was also carried by the press. A report by the Daily DAWN of December 12, 2001 is placed opposite. It summarizes the decision of the ATC Judge and the
prosecution story; however there is important and crucial circumstantial background to the facts of this archetypical case. It is given below.
A small mosque comprising one room 8ft x 10 ft, made of mud, constructed almost 30 years ago stood in the farmland of an Ahmadi landlord at Nafisnagar, District Mirpur Khas, Sind. Because of its age and being far from any residential area it was in a dilapidated state, but was occasionally used for saying prayers if and when any stray Ahmadi or non-Ahmadi peasant happened to offer his prayers at the site. Hyder, a Sindhi Muslim tenant took the initiative to propose and undertake demolition and reconstruction of the mosque, to which the Ahmadi owner agreed. Accordingly, the mud structure was jointly demolished on 22 August 1998 and reconstruction taken in hand. An opponent came to know of this and he saw in it enough germs of potential mischief. He reported the activity to Shuja-ur-Rahman, a mulla in the locality who informed other mullas, and all these started crying hoarse that a mosque had been desecrated and destroyed by Qadianis; Holy Quran was desecrated, etc. Ahmadis hurried to take the authorities in confidence, and informed them that nothing of the kind had happened. Officials were invited to the site and were shown the reconstruction in progress. Hyder told the Deputy Superintendent Police and the Sub Divisional Magistrate on 24 August that he was a Muslim and he had undertaken the demolition and the reconstruction, and that the copy of the Holy Quran that was at the mosque, is safely in his custody. The officials were satisfied and made the report accordingly to the Deputy Commissioner. By next day, Hyder and his friends had completed a slightly bigger mosque 10×12 feet made of baked bricks. The police very rightly refused to register an FIR of the alleged case.
The mullah, however, was not prepared to let the Ahmadis off the hook easily. He had already informed his mentors at Karachi, who are always on the lookout to sponsor mischief and are ever ready to cash a cheque of this kind. They organized a violent mob at Naukot and attacked the Ahmadiyya mosque at Naukot on 26 August 1998. However, that is still another shocking and distressing story. In short, mullas were entirely successful in making mountain of a molehill. They approached the Federal authorities, and without much effort enlisted their full support. Those were the days of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of the Sharial Bill notoriety and President Rafiq Tarar. Orders were issued accordingly, and the attitude of the police and administration changed in no time. The police that had not registered the case of the Nafisnagar incident for 10 days, proceeded to issue an FIR No. 87/1998 on September 2, 1998. According to a report published in the daily Nation of September 7, 1998, the police SHO who had resisted to yield to the mulla was suspended from his duties by his superiors. The police also submitted to mullas’ demand to release 10 detained miscreants and withdrawal of criminal cases against them. The mullas of Naukot who claimed to know the details of behind-the-door activities in Islamabad, announced on loudspeakers of their mosques that they were being fully backed-up by Islamabad. They even stated that they had been assured that Ahmadis implicated in Nafisnagar and Naukot incidents will not be spared and the sentences would include death, long imprisonment and confiscation of properties.
Now the judicial proceedings. Five Ahmadis were charged in this case under PPC 295, 295A, 295B, all concerning religion and blasphemy. PPC 295A was applied so that the case could be handled and disposed expeditiously by an Anti-Terrorist Court. Of the accused, one, Nazir Ahmad, a boy less than 16 years old was arrested; others absconded. At the court, the defense took the plea that as no terrorism whatsoever was involved, the ATA Court was not competent to hear the case. The ATA court dismissed the plea. The defense then approached Sind High Court with the same appeal. The High Court also dismissed the appeal. Then the defense approached the Supreme Court to consider leave to appeal. The Supreme Court directed the ATA Court to examine the question of jurisdiction etc and decide by itself; it did, and decided that it was competent to take up the case despite revised rules on the subject. Having heard the case, the judge gave the recent verdict that two of the absconders were not guilty, a third one was let off for some obvious weakness in his indictment, and he punished the other two. He awarded maximum penalties, life terms, under the Blasphemy clause PPC 295B (for defiling the Holy Quran) and section 6(B) anti-terrorism act, seven years under PPC 295A and 2 years under PPC 295. The sentences were doubled because of the section 34 for abetment. Thus each accused was sentenced to life imprisonment four times (25 Years x 4 = 100 years) in addition to 18 years under other clauses.
It is significant and material that no terrorism whatsoever was involved in the incident, yet an Anti-Terrorism Court heard the case. Higher courts provided no relief either. In any civilized society, this was a ‘no case’ that deserved to be thrown out by a police sergeant, yet the mulla and the establishment took it to an Anti-Terrorism Court for priority and expeditious disposal. All the prosecution witnesses are false and liars, as none of them except Hyder was actually present at the site when the dilapidated structure was pulled down. They live 12 km away and fabricated a story of being eye-witnesses. The prosecution witness, Hyder, a Muslim is on record that he himself removed the old structure and built the new one. Thus there are obvious contradictions in the statements of prosecution witnesses. Despite all this, the judge decided that a case of terrorism, defiling the Quran, and injury to the religious feelings of Muslims had been made out, and proceeded to award maximum terms, as if with a vengeance.
It is noteworthy that while Islamabad has joined the international coalition against religious extremism and forces of obscurantism, the lower authorities continue in their frantic efforts to promote and nurture the same evils. Only the day before, an important functionary of the state, the Governor of Punjab reiterated at Rawalpindi that extremism and violence will not be permitted. But it cannot be done if state prosecutors and judges continue to administer the laws, in their worst interpretation, that nourishes these evils against marginalized sections of the society. More than public statements of pious intentions is needed to bring about a real change
Mr Inamulla Gondal of Kotri
Syed Inamur Rehman Shah, the Additional Session Judge, Kotri, Sind awarded two years’ imprisonment to Mr. Inamullah Gondal, an Ahmadi, in a religious case, on March 14, 2001.
A criminal case was registered at the orders of the Deputy Commissioner and Assistant Superintendent of Police against the accused, reported on August 1, 1991 for writing the Kalima (Islamic creed: There is no god except God; Muhammad is His Prophet) at his house. He was booked under the anti-Ahmadiyya law PPC 298C and the dreaded Blasphemy law PPC 295C. The charges were stuck despite the fact that the house already had the Kalima (Islamic creed) written on it when Mr Gondal purchased it from someone else. (It is certain that had he removed the Kalima, he would have been more conveniently charged of Blasphemy). The accused suffered prosecution in courts for almost ten years. He was afraid that he would be put to death if the Blasphemy charge was upheld by the court as desired by the administration.
On March 14, 2001, the judge, removed the section PPC 295C, but upheld PPC 298C, the anti-Ahmadiyya clause, and sentenced the accused to two years’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5000/- for having the inscription at his house: There is none worthy of worship except Allah, Muhammad is His prophet. The judge is reportedly a Muslim. The accused is 70 years old.
Mr. Abdul Quddus of Kotri
In another case, the same Additional Session Judge Kotri, Sind sentenced Mr. Abdul Quddoos to two years’ imprisonment and fined him Rs.5000/- in addition.
The criminal case was registered against four Ahmadis namely Messers Mubashir Ahmad, Ghulam Bari, Nasir Ahmad Baloch and Abdul Quddoos on March 31, 1992 on a false complaint of a cleric, Maulana Rafiuddin. The mulla fabricated the lie that the four Ahmadis defiled the name of the Holy Prophet and stated that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was the last prophet. He arranged some witnesses who, according to the FIR, were hiding in a nearby shrine to listen to the alleged statements. Thus PPC 295C and 298C were applied by the police to accuse the victims of preaching and Blasphemy. In the face of such grave charges, the accused had to run around to avoid arrest, arrange bails and hire defense lawyers. It is a long story of extreme hardship, perpetual harassment and unbearable stress that went on for years. To cut it short, the prosecution lasted nine years. During this period, Mr Baloch died, while Mr Ghulam Bari and Mr Mubashir Ahmad fled the country and took refuge in some foreign land. Mr. Abdul Quddoos stayed on to face the false accusations. The judge found it convenient to drop the Blasphemy charge, but upheld the PPC 298C for preaching (if at all, to the prosecution witnesses hiding in an adjacent building!) and sentenced him to two years’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 5000/-. In case of default of payment of fine, the accused is required to undergo imprisonment of six more months.
Mr Ejaz Ahmad of Kotri
In still another case, the same Additional Session Judge at Kotri, sentenced Mr Ejaz Ahmad, Ahmadi to two years’ imprisonment and fined him Rs. 5000/-.
The actual circumstances in which this criminal case was instituted in 1992 are interesting and noteworthy. It was on 3 April 1992, the last Friday of the month of Ramadan, that while in a state of fasting and waiting for the Juma prayers in the Ahmadiyya Mosque, Bhitai Colony, Kotri, twenty Ahmadis were arrested at about 12:30 hrs.
Mullas of the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat organization, Kotri were opposed to the construction of an Ahmadiyya mosque in Bhitai Colony, Kotri. In conspiracy with the local police, they arranged a raid on its site alleging that armed Ahmadis were abusing there the Islamic religion.
The police on arrival found unarmed peaceful Ahmadis waiting for the Juma prayer that was to start at 1 p.m. Nevertheless, they took all of them under custody saying that they had to be protected from mullas who were furious about their place of worship. They took them to the police post, humiliated them, and even forced some of them to undress, and beat them up with batons.
The next day they were informed that all of them were being charged under Sections 295-C and 298-C (insulting the Prophet and hurting the feelings of Muslims), an outrageously false charge. In the Police Report, Ijaz Ahmad was alleged to have made a speech, and two other Ahmadis, Abdul Qadeer, and Talpur were falsely charged of possession of revolvers without license. Finally, four Ahmadis were charged on various counts including that of threatening to disturb the peace. They were made to remain in the lock-up even on the day of the Eid festival. That was indeed callous and inhuman. Mullas and the police had cast aside minimal human values and decency.
After more than 2 weeks, they were released on bail by the Addl Sessions Judge Kotri, except for Mr Ejaz Ahmad who was later released on bail by the High Court.
They were prosecuted in court for more than a year and were finally found Not Guilty of the collective charge. Abdul Qadeer and Talpur were acquitted by a Judicial Magistrate on 23 January 1995 of the false charge of possession of unlicensed revolvers. However, the very serious charges under Section 295/C and 298/C lingered on in the court of Addl Sessions Judge Kotri, although five Judges were transferred in the course of time. The punishment under the clause PPC 295/C is nothing but death. Afraid of the wrath of fundamentalists, no judge had the courage to dispense justice and to acquit them of the fabricated charges.
The case dragged on for nine long years and exhausted the victims in many ways. Mr Shahid Talpur fled abroad in 1998. The case was eventually decided in March this year. Two of the accused were set free, while Mr Ejaz Ahmad was absolved of the offence under PPC 295C but sentenced under PPC 298C to two years’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs.5000/-. The court thus gave the verdict that the accused were wrongfully made to face the grave charge of PPC 295C (penalty of death) for nine years. It is relevant to mention that Mr Ejaz Ahmad, sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, after 9 years’ trial, is 73 years old. The judge ordered that in case of default of payment of fine he shall undergo imprisonment for six more months.
Mr Ejaz Hussain of Khushab
Mr. Ejaz Hussain son of Mr. Ghulam Rasul was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 1000 by the area magistrate, Khushab, under PPC 298C, the anti-Ahmadiyya law.
Mr. Hussain was charged on September 28, 1995. He was accused of stating his religion to be Islam at the time of registration of his child’s birth. A few days later, his son died. However, he suffered criminal prosecution for the next six years. The heartless administration and judiciary eventually found him guilty for stating his faith according to his conviction, and sent him to prison.
Four Ahmadis of Takht Hazara, District Sargodha
A violent mob attacked the Ahmadiyya Mosque at Takht Hazara on November 10, 2000. There were only a few Ahmadi defenders who unsuccessfully tried to defend their place of worship. The attackers vastly outnumbered Ahmadis. They damaged the mosque and succeeded in killing five Ahmadis at the site. There was no loss of life on their side.
The police implicated thirty-six local Ahmadis in the case. The judge awarded five years’ prison terms to the under mentioned four Ahmadis:
Mr Abdul Hamid
Mr Khalid Mehmood
Mr Laiq Ahmad of Sargodha
Mr Laiq Ahmad, Ahmadi, was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment on November 24, 2001 and was ordered to pay a fine of Rs. 20,000 by an Anti-Terrorist Court, under religious laws. A brief account of the ‘terrorism’ committed by the Ahmadi would be of interest.
Laiq Ahmad is a shopkeeper in Liaquat Colony, Sargodha. He had the Kalima (Islamic creed) written in his shop. Ahmad Ali Zafar, a local magistrate was asked by a mulla to take notice, so he had the Kalima removed. Extremists were still not satisfied, and maintained their agitation. Obligingly, the police registered a case in the Cantonment police station against the Ahmadi on January 28, 2000 under sections 295-A, 298C and 16 MPO. The severe clause of 295A was applied against the victim on the grounds that the words O Allah, O Muhammad and Bismillah (in the name of God) were found written in his shop. According to the police FIR, it was under the direction of the Deputy Commissioner that the inquiry was held. The DC’s instructions were given on an Intelligence Report titled: Activities of Qadianis.
It appears that that the monstrous system designed to persecute Ahmadis continues to function smoothly. For instance in this particular case, the mulla, the administrators, the police and the judiciary got their act together with no difficulty, and put an innocent Ahmadi in prison for two years. The law obviously is not anti-terrorism; it promotes state terrorism against innocent and harmless citizens.
The role of judiciary
The role of judiciary in the Ahmadiyya context has been a chequered one in Pakistan. The Supreme Court occasionally came to the rescue of Ahmadi victims and provided relief. However, there were also many decisions which judges of posterity will regret and will shun their reminder. Here, we refer to only some such cases of this year that throw some light on the attitude and performance of some members of the judicial branch of the government.
The heartless judge at the High Court
Multan; December 11, 2001: Mian Mohammad Jahangir, a Judge at the Multan Bench of Lahore High Court dismissed petition of Mr Abdul Majeed, Ahmadi, who was under arrest for the last 7 months under highly doubtful charges framed under religious laws and the Blasphemy law. An outline of the case, given below, would be of interest.
On behest of mullas, the administration of District Leyya registered a criminal case on April 24 against four Ahmadis of Chak 93/TDA for having a minaret and niche in the Ahmadiyya mosque and also for keeping copies of Holy Quran in the mosque. The case was maliciously registered under clause PPC 295A, cognizable under the dubious Anti-terrorism Act. The Blasphemy clause PPC 295B (defiling the Holy Quran) was also applied, as also PPC 298B from Ahmadi-specific laws. Messers Abdul Majeed, the President of the local Ahmadiyya Community, Mr Shaukat Ali the Senior of local Ahmadi elders, Anwar Ahmad and the local Ahmadi religious teacher were mentioned in the FIR. Under the clauses applied, the accused can get life imprisonment or 10 years’ imprisonment in a quick trial. Mr Abdul Majeed and Mr Shaukat Ali were arrested.
It is relevant to mention here that the law does not specify that Ahmadiyya mosques cannot have a niche or a minaret. There are hundreds of Ahmadiyya mosques in Pakistan that have minarets and niche. Also, it is ridiculous to suggest that feelings of any sane Muslim are injured by the knowledge that a copy of Holy Quran is found in an Ahmadiyya mosque.
When the case was put up before a judge of the Anti-terrorist Court, he saw the mischief of the mulla, the police and the administration. He deleted the offence under section 295A PPC and sent the challan to the Area Magistrate for normal processing.
The accused thereafter put up a bail application to the magistrate who disallowed the same on October 10. The accused then approached the Sessions Court for bail. The Additional Sessions Judge granted the bail to two of the accused but not to the third petitioner, Abdul Majeed. The fourth accused had not been indicted by the police.
While confined in New Central Jail at Multan, Mr. Abdul Majeed approached the High Court through his attorney for Bail after Arrest. Briefly, he submitted the following reasons:
1. Principle of consistency demands that concession of bail should be granted to him also.
2. No offence is made out, from the perusal of FIR.
3. Registration of the case was done by the administration and the police in a mechanical way, without inquiry, logic or substance.
4. No offence is made out under the blasphemy clause PPC 295B.
5. The petitioner is behind bars for more than six months. Bail cannot be withheld as punishment.
6. The petitioner is victim of religious persecution, as, such allegations can be made against any member of Ahmadiyya Community any time.
7. The petitioner is an old man of more than 65 years of age and is locked up in jail for committing no offence at all. He therefore respectfully prayed that concession of Bail after Arrest be granted to him.
The learned judge of the High Court heard the plea of the applicant. The state was represented by its counsel who powerfully opposed the grant of bail. The judge noted that according to the local police the Blasphemy clause and the Ahmadi-specific clause are attracted. He made the tentative assessment that there is a prima facie case; so he declared it not a fit case for bail, and dismissed the petition.
Some people never learn from history, even from contemporary flow of events around them.
Pattoki; August 2001: Zahid Sharif is the Resident Magistrate Class 1 at Pattoki. He acts more like a judicial terrorist than a judicial officer, where Ahmadis are concerned. An incident of August throws a flood of light on his conduct.
Mr. Munawwar Ahmad Zia, a local Ahmadi, had been teaching the recitation of the Holy Quran for the last thirty years to children of his neighborhood, both Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis. He provided this service gratis. In August 2001, a religious activist, a madrassa student and a few Ahmadi-bashers intimated to the assistant commissioner that Munawar Ahmad and his family members, despite being non-Muslims, teach the Holy Quran to Muslim children; they are therefore guilty of preaching. The AC sent the application to Zahid Sharif to follow up.
Ahmadi community officials requested Zahid Sharif to give them time for stating their side of the story. Zahid refused to see them, instead he told them curtly to present their views in the presence of the other party at 10 a.m. on August 17. At the rendezvous, the mullah accompanied by 20 collaborators arrived at the premises. Apprehensive of the severe attitude of the magistrate and fearing official action, Ahmadis decided to talk directly to the opposition on their own. They mutually decided that from then on, Mr. Munawwar will no more teach the recitation of the Holy Quran to non-Ahmadi children. Jointly, they informed the magistrate of the agreement, who was apparently not pleased with the reconciliation proceedings, and gave free vent to his feelings and prejudice in the following terms: “You (non-Ahmadis) should not have come to me; instead should have dealt with these infidels (Ahmadis) at your own initiative and just reported that you have done away with the infidels”.
The magistrate then told Mr. Munawwar to give the undertaking in writing. Mr. Munawwar wrote: “I and my wife will no longer teach the Holy Quran to children of the neighborhood”. At this, the magistrate got infuriated and shouted: “How dare you refer to the Holy Quran?” Then he himself crossed out the word Holy Quran, and wrote Qadianiyyat instead. He also severely reprimanded Mr. Munawwar and told him to have no dealings with the people of the neighborhood, as otherwise he would punish him severely. He then addressed the non-Ahmadis present: “Now that the government has declared them (Ahmadis) infidel in clear terms, you should not even exchange salaam with them. You should be ashamed of yourself that you still deal with them. These people are Israeli agents; they are enemies of the country and the nation. I go ablaze even at their sight. You people do not handle them severely enough. Stop talking to them; stop dealing with them”. Then he shouted at Mr. Munawwar: “Get out; get lost; otherwise I shall arrest you and send you to prison”.
Ahmadi Accused of Pattoki
Pattoki, district Qasur: More than four years ago, Mr Bashirul Haq and Mr Mubashir Javed, Ahmadis were booked under the religious clause PPC 295A for putting the Kalima (Islamic creed) in a frame at their shop. Later, maliciously, the accusers and the police added the blasphemy clause PPC 295B to the charge sheet, under which the two could get life imprisonment. They were arrested. The Sessions Court and the High Court rejected their plea for release on bail. It was eventually the Supreme Court that granted them relief and released them on bail for the duration of the trial. For almost two years, a magistrate heard the case. The opposition then applied to the court that their case should be sent to an Anti-Terrorism court. This was done. In these courts, cases are heard summarily and decided expeditiously. Under these conditions, it becomes more difficult to obtain justice. The accused therefore approached the Supreme Court with the plea that their case is not fit for trial in an anti-terrorism court. The Supreme Court issued a stay order, so the trial proceedings were suspended. Eventually, the anti-terrorism court ordered that trial be conducted in a normal court, and ordered the accused to present themselves there on September 21.
This brief report cannot bring out the hardships and plight of the two Ahmadis who have to face all this judicial distress for the ‘crime’ of putting up the Kalima, which is their own creed, in their own shop. These judicial proceedings exposed them to great worry, anxiety and the stress of mounting the most competent defense possible, as otherwise they ran the risk of losing their freedom for years, like many other fellow Ahmadis. Jose Garcia Oliver once wrote: “ Justice, I firmly believe, is so subtle a thing that to interpret it one has only need of a heart.” It seems, an Ahmadi in Pakistan has to climb up to the Supreme Court in the hope to locate that heart.
Takht Hazara Case – A questionable verdict
Sargodha: It would be recalled that five Ahmadis were killed inside their mosque in anti-Ahmadiyya riot at Takht Hazara, district Sargodha, on November 10, 2000. The riot was instigated and precipitated by a mullah, Athar Shah, a non-local who had been posted at Takht Hazara by his parent Khatme Nabuwwat Organization only to cause mischief and instigate people to violence. On November 10, the mullah led a group of armed miscreants to the Ahmadiyya mosque where they raised slanderous slogans and precipitated a confrontation. Athar Shah was wounded in the brawl. This was followed by extreme violence in which an angry mob attacked the Ahmadiyya mosque, demolished a part of it, overwhelmed the few Ahmadis who were there, and murdered five Ahmadis inside the premises of the mosque. 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 families. The attackers suffered no loss of life.
Although, at that time the government assured all human rights concerns that justice would be done, and arrested a number of the attacking hooligans, however it followed up the initial action by numerous steps to placate the mulla. Authorities booked 36 Ahmadis as well under various sections of the Penal Code and arrested a number of them. This was followed up by a police inquiry and medical reports. In Pakistan, these two sources are always in a position to substantially change and adversely affect the dispensation of justice. At the court, the state takes over the task of prosecution. The prosecutors are, of course, in a position to present the case in a manner that the guilty can get away with murder and the innocent can suffer for crimes they did not commit. False witnesses are another major problem. Thereafter, it is the judge who has the power to dispense justice according to his own inclinations and attitude. All these factors played their part in the final outcome of this important case.
Mr Gulshad Hassan Alvi, Judge of the Anti-Terrorist Court at Sargodha heard this case and gave his decision on 31 October, 2001. Four Ahmadis were awarded five years’ prison sentences and fine, on four counts. Six non-Ahmadi rioters were found guilty of murders and were awarded life terms and fine. Mullah Athar Shah, the agent-provocateur, was allowed to walk away a free man. Thirty-six other rioting miscreants, accused of violence, were also found ‘not guilty’.
Without going here in complicated legalities of this very important case, following observations state the specific and the obvious:
- Ahmadis were at the receiving end from the beginning to the end; the provocateurs and rioters came to their mosque; five Ahmadis were murdered inside their place of worship; still four Ahmadis were awarded five years’ rigorous imprisonment.
- Athar Shah, the mullah who deliberately precipitated the ugly incident has been let off.
- Some of the main accused who were armed and who physically hit their unfortunate victims to death, have been set free.
- None of those who manned the microphones of loudspeakers of various mosques to gather the violent mob and to incite the rioters to commit butchery has been punished.
When the killers and the victims are treated this way, one is not surprised that terrorists and their sponsors plan and precipitate incidents at places of worship at centers like Takht Hazara, Ghatialian and Bahawalpur.
Sialkot; May 28, 2001: Mr Asad Zahur, an Ahmadi of Ladhar, District Sialkot was arrested in September last year for addressing the Supreme Head of Ahmadiyya Community as Ameerul Momineen in his fax letter. He was charged under the anti-Ahmadiyya sections PPC 298B and 298C. He applied for release on bail. The Additional Session Judge, Sialkot refused his plea, so he continued to suffer behind bars while awaiting trial. He faces up to three years imprisonment simply for addressing his Imam as such in a private letter. Why deny him the benefit of bail, only the judge knows.
Another plea rejected unjustifiably
Mirpur Khas, Sind; June 5, 2001: Dr. Wahid Ahmad, an Ahmadi of Golarchi was awarded long-term imprisonment by an anti-terrorism court in a case wherein he was accused of filing in incorrectly the Census Data Form for an acquaintance. He had put in a plea that the case was not within the jurisdiction of an anti-terrorism court. The court, however, rejected this well-grounded plea.
While imprisoned, Dr. Wahid Ahmad’s health has deteriorated very badly. He is now a heart patient. He was operated upon and is recuperating from his serious condition. It was with great difficulty that the much-needed medical attention could be arranged for him. If left to the authorities, he would have been most-probably dead by now.
Dr. Wahid continued in prison – this was his fourth year behind bars. The great judges were not been able to see that filling in a Census Data Form is not an act of terrorism. The victim’s plea remained before the High Court, so also his plea for release on bail pending a revision of the sentence.
Mass persecution of Ahmadis continues
Rabwah/Chiniot: The government has taken no action to withdraw dozens of fabricated criminal cases against Ahmadis, that are under active prosecution in the courts at Chiniot. It is a part of the on-going persecution against Ahmadis from Rabwah, for years. Mr. Iftikhar Ahmad Cheema, the magistrate at Chiniot had ordered 28 Ahmadiyya cases to be brought up before him in his court on June 14, 2001. On the appointed date the magistrate ordered that the accused present themselves again in his court on September 3. The victims cannot protest against these postponements, as the other most likely option in these false cases is only a verdict of guilty and sentence of imprisonment.
Fundamentalists interfere with judicial process
Gujranwala: The fundamentalists accused of indiscriminate murder of 5 Ahmadis in Ghatialian were being tried at Gujranwala in an Anti-terrorism court. At the hearings, mullas took to intimidate and influence the court by pressure tactics. On April 19, Mulla Toofani came all the way from Sargodha along with a bus-load of supporters to impress the court. At this occasion they put up posters in the courts’ area; it demanded the release of murderers, Shakeel and Nasrulla of Qila Kalarwala. At the next hearing they put up another poster that called for: “Release Shakeel who acted in the Blasphemy case of Kalarwala’. It may be recalled that Shakeel took the plea in his ‘statement of confession’ that he committed the murders because Ahmadis defile the good name of the Prophet (a false accusation).
These steps point to the policy of active interference with the judicial process