A disturbing report from Azad Kashmir
This report describes a recent ordeal of two Ahmadis families of Dhudial, District Mirpur, Azad Kashmir. This part of Kashmir is a dependent territory of Pakistan, and in its milieu it shares with the parent country the culture of intolerance and persecution against the Ahmadiyya Community. This report is important in that it throws a flood of light on the general mulla – authorities teamwork in their contemptible drive against this peaceful religious community.
Mr Mansur Ahmad Zahid is the president of the rather small Ahmadiyya Community at Dhudial. Till a few months ago he had a small tailoring business in the town at a rented location. The house in which his family resided was also a rented house. The community at Dhudial in general and Mr Zahid in particular had faced harassment at the hands of religious extremists for months. The administration and the police have rarely provided any protection. In fact, they often join the fundamentalists in exercise of tyranny over the persecuted community.
On 8 August 2000, a procession led by mullas, comprising tailors and other shopkeepers arrived at Mr Zahid’s business, shouting angry and insulting slogans against Ahmadiyyat. The demonstrators told Zahid to close down his shop, otherwise to remain prepared to face death. The situation was very tense, however it was defused for the time being, thanks to the intervention of a good man. The mob withdrew. Their leaders, however, wrote a complaint on a piece of paper and addressed it to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate. They accused Zahid of showing Ahmadiyya TV programs to non-Ahmadis and being instrumental in the conversion of a good Muslim. Then they marched on to the local police station. The police obligingly collected Zahid, took him to the police station and treated him harshly. They, however, let him go after an admonition.
The next day, Hafiz Bilal, who had earlier switched over to Ahmadiyyat and was an employee at Zahid’s shop, was intercepted by a few gangsters in the bazaar. They forcibly took him inside a tailor’s shop and subjected him to severe questioning. They asked him if he had become an Ahmadi, to which Bilal replied in the affirmative. At this, they beat him up with fists and a pair of scissors. They let him go in an injured state with blood all over his clothes. At this, Zahid and Bilal decided to go to the police station to lodge a complaint. The police, however, received them with bad grace, refused to register their complaint, used insulting language against them and detained them. In the meantime, another Ahmadi suffered violence at the hand of gangsters in the town. Mr Aziz Ahmad, a government employee in water supply service was grabbed by a gang, while on duty, and was beaten up severely. In an injured state, he also arrived at the police station in the evening. The police detained him as well. The three Ahmadis spent the night in the police station. Members of their families were extremely worried for them and spent a sleepless night.
The next day, on August 10, mullas, tailors and gangsters again took out processions, shouted anti-Ahmadiyya slogans and pasted posters on walls. The three Ahmadi detainees felt relatively safe in police custody. The mob therefore went for other Ahmadis who worked in government offices. Mr Manzoor saved himself by jumping over a wall, and escaped. The mob, however, got hold of Iqbal and Abdul Aziz, Ahmadis, and beat them up badly. The nasal bone of Mr Iqbal was broken and he bled profusely. They forced Ahmadis to go bare footed to the bazaar. They tied their hands behind their backs, pushed a wreath of shoe bits around their necks (a form of profuse insult), and led them around in the town’s main streets. The local administration took no action whatsoever to check the mob action. A few notables however intervened and recovered the two victims from the mullas and gangsters. On release, they immediately departed for Mirpur to escape further harm.
At the police station, they gave a very rough time to Hafiz Bilal whom the police and mullas of Lashkar Taiba wanted to recant under duress. Bilal stood firm and refused. At about 4 p.m. they let go the two detainees. Immediately, these Ahmadis hired a taxi and fled to Dolya Jattan, in district Kotli. The exit from Dhudial was full of risk in view of the hostile pickets all over, but they succeeded by avoiding the main roads and through camouflage. Although, now safe themselves, they were worried about the safety of their families at Dhudial. They learnt that mullas had announced on mosques’ loudspeakers that the next day, a Friday, they would take out processions all over the town and set Ahmadis’ houses on fire. Ahmadis of Dolya Jattan proposed to hire a van and make the risky trip to Dhudial to recover the stranded families from there during dark hours. They accomplished the proposed evacuation successfully. However, the next day, mullas of Dhudial came to know of their targets’ escape to Dolya Jattan, so they urged their colleagues there to act. Accordingly, the next day, religious activists of Dolya Jattan got hold of four Ahmadis and beat them up severely in the bazaar. The president of the local Ahmadiyya Community received injuries in the face that resulted in much loss of blood. The Dhudial mullas demanded the Jattan people to expel or hand over to them the two Ahmadis who had taken refuge in their town. As the noose was getting tight around them, the two Ahmadis left their sanctuary during dark hours and spent the night out in the wilderness. At dawn they boarded a vehicle and fled to Mirpur, a district headquarters town. There, they told their woeful tale to the Ahmadi elders, who received them with sympathy and provided them the necessary care.
Their persons were now safe at Mirpur, but their households and business at Dhudial were closed and vulnerable to loot. They were dutifully concerned about their customers’ unstitched and stitched clothings locked up in the shop. A few days later, the landlord of the shop sent to Mansur Zahid a notice to vacate the premises. Accordingly, during the next three to four weeks, a few Ahmadis helped Zahid in recovery of personal effects and part of the shop inventory at Dhudial. In the meantime someone forcibly took possession of the shop and its contents.
With no place for his devastated family to put up, Zahid sent his wife and children to the Punjab to stay with his in-laws. He now intends to start his business from scratch at Mirpur. Hafiz Bilal had to send his afflicted family to Rahim Yar Khan, hundreds of miles away, while he faces the threat of murder for alleged apostasy.
By the end of the year they have not been able to settle down. One of them was Mr Aziz Ahmad. He was an employee of the Health Department. He received injuries during the riot and had to go away to Mir Bharka for fear of life. As he could not return in view of the opinion and threats to his person, he could not report on duty. As such his pay has been stopped. He has a family to support. He has received an official warning to return to duty. He is unable to do so and is facing great hardship.
Forced to flee:
It is not seldom that mulla succeeds in making life impossible for entire Ahmadi communities in certain villages and towns. He achieves this in co-operation with local officials who get an approving nod from their superiors. Ahmadis, exposed to severe persecution over a long period of time, sometimes cannot bear up with perpetual stress and strain and decide to quit. This has happened at Data and Mansehra in NWFP, Chak Mohsin Shah, and partially in L Plot in the Punjab, and Dhadial, Azad Kashmir. Their departure from their ancestral abodes raises a host of other problems, but they find them less severe than a perpetual threat to their life and liberty.
Admission of inhuman crime and guilt:
Dr Abdul Basit, an anti-Ahmadiyya prolific writer has recently written a series of articles in the Daily Nawa-i-Waqt. He also wrote a column in the Daily Din, Lahore, of January 18, 2000. Some extracts of his article are translated and recorded below, as these are evidence of pleading Guilty.
“ At the commencement of the 21st Century we find that Qadianiyyat has been uprooted from this land of Pakistan. Regardless of how, but this object has been achieved. In this goal of eradication of Qadianiyyat, this writer has also made his humble contribution. Only a few Mirzais are left in Pakistan and none is holding a key post. They pass their days in anonymity and hiding. It is a new situation, and it is essential to take a fresh view of this.
“ At this juncture, I would like to present to my readers a personal account of an advocate from Abbotabad, Mr Nazir Nomani, so that they may realize how many tried to save themselves from the whirl pool of Mirzaiyyat and how they were rejected. Accordingly, Mirzaiyyat is still there, and unless we change our policy, it will continue to exist. This incident happened after 22 May 1973 (stet). A few Mirzai youth were guilty of acts of violence at Rabwah railway station against the students of Nishtar Medical College who were proceeding somewhere as tourists. Majlis Ahrar precipitated a nationwide powerful reaction to the incident. At the time, East Pakistan had separated. Almost 100,000 Pakistani soldiers were detained by Indians as prisoners. Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto was the country’s Prime Minister, and he was prepared to undertake any popular venture to perpetuate himself in power. He availed himself fully of this wave of hatred and propaganda against Qadianis as it helped him deviate the attention of masses from other serious problems faced by the country. He, therefore, supported the movement to declare the Qadianis a religious minority. People attacked the Qadianis in every town and in every street. They put their homes on fire. Rioters are normally in a state of hysteria. One such mob, in hysterical state, approached Nomani’s house to set it on fire. At that time, Nomani’s 10 years’ old son was playing outside in the street. The mob could not find the advocate, but it nabbed his innocent child. The mob leader, who was motivated by intense faith, openly consulted his colleagues on how to murder the child hostage. After collective consultations, they decided that, in order to benefit all by holy act, the boy’s hands and feet should be tied down and caustic soda be obtained from the nearby washerman’s shop and be poured into his mouth. This valiant gang proceeded accordingly. The heavens witnessed this act when these ‘Mujahidin’ of Khatame Nabuwwat pushed the child down to the ground and forcibly poured the caustic soda in his mouth. They left the boy reeling on the road and went on to the next street looking for the next Qadiani. It is a miracle that the boy is still living.
“ Somehow, the poisonous chemical damaged the boy’s intestines and he was saved by extensive surgery. Many years later, I feel nauseated relating this story, and I utterly hate every participant of that ugly mob. The incident frightened Nomani to the extreme and he hurried to the nearby mosque to recant from Mirzaiyyat. Anyway, while Nomani considered himself a Muslim, the city folk, including his colleagues, continued to call him a Qadiani. Under these circumstances, one Friday, Nazir Nomani went over to the mosque in the courts’ area and joined the front row. The Imam noticed him on conclusion of the prayers and shouted: “The Qadiani has polluted our mosque; and thus perhaps committed an offence calling for police intervention for defiling Islam”. Nazir Nomani, having experienced Islam, decided to revert to Ahmadiyyat.
“ I urge all sincere Muslims not to accept as such a person, dubbed as a Qadiani, unless they are personally satisfied after in-depth inquiry that the accuser is not malicious and evil. It is essential to discourage the greedy and mischievous.
“ It is time to firmly put a stop to forcibly enlist people in Mirzai faith.”
It is surprising that the doctor (Dr. Abdul Basit) still believes in that kind of Islam, and is proud of his contribution to its present day Pakistani version, and a leading newspaper of the country has a heart to publish this so-called heroic act of mullas.
An Ahmadi harassed:
Mr Abdul Jabbar, Ahmadi is a resident of Multan. This city happens to be the headquarters of the anti-Ahmadiyya Majlis Tahaffuz Khatame Nabuwwat. Mulla Bashir Ahmad, the Central Coordinator of this organization decided to harass Mr. Jabbar. He mounted a campaign against him. He ostensibly obtained signatures of 51 residents, accusing Jabbar of violation of the anti-Ahmadiyya laws. He then wrote a covering letter and sent the accusation to the deputy commissioner asking him to register a case against Jabbar under PPC 298C and 16 MPO.
Kanwar Intizar Muhammad Khan of Multan who claims to be an advocate of Supreme Court issued an open letter addressed to the Military Government, and gave it wide circulation. The letter was full of anti-Ahmadiyya propaganda and contained numerous fallacies. For instance:
- Qadianis detonated bombs in Wapda House. They make the Sipah Sahaba and Shias fight with each other. They steal military secrets of Pakistan for enemies of Pakistan. They are planning an Israel-type Qadiani state in Pakistan.
- The General’s statement that he is not a Qadiani is inadequate. His wife is a Qadiani.
- Omar Asghar Khan, Tariq Aziz, Farooq Adam, Lt Gen G Ahmad, Sahibzada Imtiaz etc are Qadianis.
The writer threatened the addressees of a bloody reaction. He stressed that unless persons of doubtful religious loyalties were not removed and decisions were made not for American pleasure, none will be able to save Pakistan from a violent revolution that is knocking at the door.