How the Judiciary functions!
Faisalabad: The village Mangat Unche in District Hafizabad has a sizable Ahmadiyya community and is thus targeted by the mullas of Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat. In the year 2004 the clerics inflicted three of the local Ahmadis with an accusation of defiling the Holy Quran, under PPC 295-B. The Additional Session Judge (ASJ) found the prosecution witnesses unreliable, even liars, so he acquitted two of the accused. However, based on the testimony of those very liars, he convicted the third accused and awarded him imprisonment for life for burning pages of the holy book. He also wrote, rather unjustifiably, “It is not necessary for the prosecution to prove that the accused acted in ill will manner and willfully through separate evidence if injurious act was voluntarily done without a lawful excuse, the defile is presumed and proved”. (Para 33). The ASJ thus violated a fundamental Islamic principle that ‘intentions’ are basic and crucial to acts. Also a number of Islamic scholars are of the view that the burning of old or torn pages of the Quran is permissible for their disposal.
Anyhow, this third accused, Mr. Mansur Ahmad, was imprisoned in the Central Jail of Faisalabad. He appealed against the sentence in 2005, and also applied for release on bail. There is a long waiting line of appeals at the High Court. He had to wait not for months, but years. Now he was in the third year of incarceration. At the end of May, 2007 a good judge at the Lahore High Court accepted his plea for bail.
The judge proceeded on short leave after the announcement of his decision, so it took some days’ delay before the bail orders reached the Sessions Court at Hafizabad. There, it was noticed that the name of the prisoner had been misspelt, ‘Manzur Ahmad’ instead of Mansur Ahmad. So the High Court had to be approached again for correction of the name. This was done on June 11, 2007, and the decision was conveyed again to the Sessions at Hafizabad. Surety bond was accordingly submitted. However, when the release orders were delivered to the prison authorities at Faisalabad, they raised three objections: 1) A copy of the Decision should be attached, 2) The release is indicated as that of a ‘detainee’, while the individual is a ‘prisoner’, and 3) The warrant should have at the head the name of the Court that orders release.
Accordingly, Mr. Mansur’s attorneys approached a third time the Sessions Court on June 15, 2007. The clerk pointed out that the letter of objections should be delivered by an official of the prison. So, a transport was dispatched to proceed all the way to Faisalabad to fetch the official from there. However, by the time he arrived, the session judge had departed from the court. Thus the paper work was completed the next day at Hafizabad from where the orders were taken again to the Central Jail at Faisalabad, and the prisoner was released by noon on June 16, 2007 — 16 days after the initial orders of the Lahore High Court.
It is just as well that community volunteers were doing the running around for the poor prisoner, otherwise Mansur would have stayed bogged down in the bureaucratic swamp for months before breathing the fresh air of freedom.
A court verdict that raises important questions
Bahawalpur: Two years ago 15 Ahmadis were nominated by a mulla in Hasilpur, District Bahawalpur on June 17, 2005 under the blasphemy law PPC 295C and some other clauses. Essential details of this case are available in Chapter 7 of the annual report for the Year 2005 . However, briefly, the mullah had come all the way from Bahawalpur on his mission of mischief to the village Chak 192 where Ahmadis were constructing their mosque. He aggressively demanded a visit to the interior of the mosque, which led to a scuffle with some youth who retained him and asked the police to collect him. The police did not, so they handed him over to the Patwari, the local revenue clerk, a government official. The mullah thereafter reported to the police and had an FIR registered. The police provided him full support, and proceeded to make arrests in a big way. Application of the Blasphemy clause against 15 was obviously a false accusation of the mullah, and a malicious acceptance by the police. How, on earth, can 15 persons defile the good name of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), at one time and place, in a single incident? Even a half witted constable would know that, but lo and behold, the Superintendent of Police gave the nod to charge all the accused of the Blasphemy. Armed with this permissive and wicked approval of their senior officer, the lower staff used unlawful and repressive means to force all the accused to present themselves at the police station, where they were arrested and put behind bars. The police charged them under both the blasphemy laws PPC 295C and 295B, as also the Anti-Terrorism clause, Section 7 of ATA 1997, and referred them to the Anti-terrorism Court at Bahawalpur. Thus according to the state, all the 14 indicted Ahmadis deserved hanging under PPC 295C, life imprisonment under PPC 295B, and long imprisonments under 7ATA and other clauses. Those indicted included Mr Muhammad Lateef 85 years old, Mr Muhammad Shafi 79 years old and Mr Muhammad Ishaq 75 years old. The police made itself a tool and a pawn of the mullah — or is it the other way around? Frederik Grare of Carnegie Endowment (Washington) was perhaps right in his assessment that: “the establishment not the extremist is the real source of insecurity on the Subcontinent” (the daily DAWN of February 15, 2006). In such servitude of the police to the mullah, how can anyone reasonably expect the state, that proclaims the empty rhetoric of ‘enlightened moderation’, rid itself of the bondage of extremism and sectarianism?
Later, while awaiting trial, 10 of the14 indicted were released on bail by the High Court, although the state prosecutor opposed their plea for bail. Three remained in prison.
Judge Muhammad Akram Khan of the Anti-Terrorism Court, Bahawalpur presided over this Trial No. 21 dated June 17, 2006. The state was represented by Mr Nasir-ud-Din Ghouri, the Public Prosecutor, while Rana Sardar Ahmad, Advocate defended the accused. The trial went on for six months and the judge announced his judgment on December 21, 2006. He acquitted nine of the 12 accused (two had absconded out of fear, and were declared proclaimed offenders) and awarded one year’s imprisonment to Messrs Tariq Mahmood, Nasir and Muhammad Younas. All were found ‘not guilty’ of violation of the blasphemy laws. The state wasted its own time, money and effort in pressing false and fabricated accusation of blasphemy pressed by the mullah. It has none else to blame but itself.
In his judgment the Judge was not equivocal about latter thoughts and fabrications: “…So supplementary statement, wherein some words of blasphemy have been figured, is fabricated and manipulation and the same cannot be treated as piece evidence”. He brought forth the falsehood of the mulla: “The demeanor of the complainant before a Senior Police Officer indicates that he himself falsified his supplementary statement. On account of such dubious manner his conduct for involving other accused also becomes highly suspicious”. He also observed that ‘some of the accused are very old and they are too week (sic) to walk’. All that was obvious at the court, was more so earlier at the level of police investigation. Only moral and professional corruption of the police inflicted undeserved incarceration and stress of the trial on at least 9 of the accused. The question arises: Will the higher authorities hold the concerned high police officials accountable for serious mishandling of this simple case of a scuffle, or will they keep quiet because in fact they themselves are to blame for conduct of the police who act only in accord with the policy and wishes of their political masters in the establishment?
A court rescues Mulla Allah Yar Arshad
Mullah Arshad is notorious for his activism in promotion of hatred and extremist sentiments against Ahmadis at Rabwah. He has been appointed at Rabwah by his parent organization (Khatme Nabuwwat) and his sole occupation is to brew agitation and sectarianism in this Ahmadiyya town. He is a reporter/complainant in dozens of anti-Ahmadi FIRs at the local police station.
Recently he has been involved extensively in attempts to create a law and order situation based on doing/undoing mosques. He was recently instrumental in closure of an Ahmadiyya prayer centre at Ahmad Nagar, a satellite village of Rabwah. He then attempted to build an unauthorized small mosque in Babul Abwab, a Rabwah neighborhood. Thereafter he along with his gang of miscreants occupied a small platform on an Ahmadi’s agricultural land, claiming that the platform was used for prayers by the previous owner. When the police tried to dissuade him from such daily mischief, he behaved with great arrogance threatening ’consequences’. Senior police officers were convinced that the mullah is a threat to peace, so they charged him under PPC 621 and 9 ATA, and arrested him.
The authorities took him to an Anti-terrorism court, where judge Chaudhry Muhammad Islam released him on bail, and subsequently acquitted him.