Report of The Court of Inquiry
PREPARATIONS TO MEET THE THREAT OF DIRECT ACTION
In the Punjab information began to pour in that the threat of direct action was materialising and that a movement of full-fledged civil disobedience was soon going to be launched. On 16th February or thereabout the C. I. D. Punjab received the following information from the Intelligence Bureau, Karachi :—
Government of Pakistan.
Karachi, Feb. 14th, 1953.
“A source report which appears to have some substance in it shows that the sponsors of the khatm-i-nubuwwat agitation are planning to start a full-fledged agitation in Punjab and Karachi from February 22nd, 1953 in connection with their five-point demand for (1) removal of Hon’ble Chaudhri Muhammad Zafrullah Khan from the post of Foreign Minister-ship, (2) declaration of Qadianis as a minority, (3) taking away the land which has been given to the Qadianis in Rabwah and utilising it for the rehabilitation of refugees, (4) removal of Qadianis from key posts and their replacement by Musalmans, and (5) framing the constitution of Pakistan on purely Islamic lines.
“2. The first person who will offer himself for arrest in connection with this agitation in Punjab will possibly be Sahibzada Pir Faiz-ul-Hasan who has about 30,000 murids. It is said that all his murids will follow suit.
“3. At Karachi plans for the launching of the agitation will be completed by one Muhammad Johar, Naib Nazim-i-Ala of the Jama’at Khatm-i-Nubuwwat instead of Lal Husain Akhtar who is reported to have fallen from grace on account of having spent about Rs. 24,000 during the past year without achieving much success. Muhammad Johar is, however, finding it difficult to launch the operations on account of paucity of volunteers. His main job during the next few days will be to raise as many volunteers as possible for offering themselves for arrest. Yesterday he sent one Niaz Ahmad to harangue to the Juma Congregation in the Memon Mosque at Boulton Market but the latter could not succeed in doing so. Some residents of Khudabad and Qaidabad colonies are reported to have volunteered but their total number has not yet been ascertained. In connection with the raising of volunteers a meeting is being planned to be held within the next few days in Jahangirabad which is near Usmania colony.
“4. The directive appears to have been given by Muhammad Ali Jullundri and volunteers have been called upon to get set on the mid-night between 21st and 22nd February 1953.
“5. The source report mentioned above concerns the operations which are being planned in Karachi. It is not known as to what plans are being made in other places in Pakistan and therefore it is requested that the C. I. Ds. of all Provinces may kindly make immediate enquiries for taking necessary action“.
The following top secret most immediate cypher telegram was received from Foreign Karachi by Punjab on 19th February 1953:—
“Headlines, articles and comments in ‘Zamindar’ and ‘Azad’ Lahore continue to whip up anti-Ahmadi agitation strongly. Some recent instances are the editorial and anti-Ahmadi articles in ‘Zamindar’ of 16th and 17th February respectively and series of anti-Ahmadi articles and poems in ‘Azad’ of 4th, 8th and 11th February. Provincial Government’s attention has been drawn to earlier objectionable articles published in Azad from time to time.
“2. We have now seen a report that anti-Ahmadi elements intend to give a fillip to the agitation in the Punjab by courting arrest from 22nd February. Central Government would be glad to have Provincial Government’s comments on this report and also trust that necessary measures would be undertaken to check the press from fanning the agitation“.
On receipt of this telegram the position was discussed m a meeting of the Chief Minister, the Home Secretary and Mr. Anwar Ali who by now had succeeded Mr. Qurban Ali Khan as Inspector-General of Police. The result of the meeting was thus recorded by Mr. Anwar Ali on 20th February 1953:—
“This case was discussed this morning by H. S. and myself with H.C.M. The changes which H.C.M. suggested have been incorporated in the draft. Will C. S. kindly sign so that it can issue at once ?
“2. Day after tomorrow being Sunday, action on the draft in Karachi may be delayed and I, therefore, suggest that a cypher telegram should be sent in reply to the telegram which came on 10th February 1953.
Draft is added.
“3. H. C. M. has suggested that further action on the following lines should be taken:
(i) The ugly incidents which have taken place in the Province within the last month or two and which have been mentioned in the letter to the Government of Pakistan, should be suitably publicised. H. C. M. desires that H. S. should send for the editors of ‘Afaq’, ‘Maghribi Pakistan’ and ‘Ehsan’ and give them a suitable lead. He also desires that the editor of ‘Civil and Military Gazette’ should be spoken to by D. P. R. and advised to write articles about the situation in a more objective manner so that the public will show leas apathy to these articles.
(ii) The workers of the All Parties Muslim Convention who have taken a leading part in sponsoring the agitation should be sent for by H. S. and told that the agitation has no longer remained peaceful and that incidents have taken place which have created genuine fear and alarm in the minds of the public.
They should also be told that in case there is any breach of peace or law the Provincial Government will hold the sponsors of the agitation directly responsible for it.
(iii) The D. P. R. should be instructed by C. S. to send for Maulanas Abul Hasanat, Tarammm and Muhammad Bakhsh Muslim and advise them to refrain from making speeches which amount to incitement to violation of law and order. Maulana Akhtar Ali should be called by D. P. R. separately and also suitably spoken to.
“4. H. S. has seen this note and is taking action accordingly. C. S. may kindly instruct D. P. R.”
The following telegram was sent by the Chief Secretary on 21st February in reply to the cypher telegram that had been received from Karachi on 19th February :—
“THREATENED AGITATION IS LIKELY TO BE STARTED AT KARACHI BUT THERE MAY BE REPERCUSSIONS IN THIS AND OTHER PROVINCES ALSO (.) PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT IS IN TOUCH WITH SITUATION (.) DETAILED LETTER SEEKING GUIDANCE ISSUED TODAY”.
This was, with the Chief Minister’s approval, accompanied by the following letter:—
Punjab Civil Secretariat, Lahore.
February 21, 1953
My dear Ahmad,
Please refer to Ghias-ud-Din Ahmad’s D. O. letter No. 14682-BDSB, dated 21st October, 1952, to Hameed-ud Din Ahmad on the subject of the Ahmadi-Ahrar agitation.
“2. For some time the tempo of the agitation slowed up but recently efforts are being made once again with considerable vehemence to whip up popular interest. A large number of conferences and meetings have been arranged throughout the Province and fiery speeches made. The support of mullas has been enlisted and much venom is being poured against the Ahmadis. At Gujranwala printed leaflets were broadcast demanding that Ahmadis should be treated as untouchables and separate utensils provided for them at food and drink shops. It was also advocated for sometime in the Gujranwala district that the Ahmadis would not be permitted to be buried in Muslim graveyards. It was only as a result of the interference of the police that incidents on this account were averted. Ahmadis, who felt considerably alarmed over this development, made an application to the District Magistrate for allotment of land to be used as a separate graveyard. At Sargodha on 1st February 1953 the burial of an Ahmadi in the Muslim graveyard was obstructed and the situation was saved only as a result of the arrival of the police. Social boycott of the Ahmadis is being openly preached. At Montgomery, a speaker said that the shops of the Ahmadis would be picketed and they would not be allowed to draw water from public wells. The tone of the agitation, has definitely descended to a lower plane. A campaign for the enlistment of volunteers has been started throughout the Province and Sahibzada Faiz-ul-Hasan appointed as the first dictator. The volunteers are required to sign a pledge which binds them to lay their life, if necessary, for the honour of the Prophet. Some volunteers are said to have given the pledge with their blood. At Lahore, about 150 persons are said to have been enlisted. In other parts of the Province, the number of volunteers so far enrolled is estimated to be about 500. The target for the Province is 50,000. Master Taj-ud-Din Ansari (President, All Pakistan Majlis-i-Ahrar), Syed Muzaffar Ali Shamsi, (Secretary, Idara-i-Tahaffuz-i-Haquq-Shian) and Sahibzada Faiz-ul-Hasan have become particularly aggressive.
“3. The All Muslim Parties Convention which was constituted by the Ahrar last July met at Karachi from the 16th to the 18th January and passed the usual resolutions. Since their return to the Punjab the delegates have shown greater truculence. They are apparently fortified by the support which was given to the demand for the declaration of the Ahmadis as a minority community by the conference of the ulama held in Karachi. They affirm that the Honourable Prime Minister, whom they interviewed, was not sympathetic and that, therefore, they gave him an ultimatum threatening to start ‘direct action’ on the 23rd February. They give out that at Karachi public is on their side and that in the event of an agitation being started they will rally mass support. They also accuse members of the Central Government for having held out promises which have not been kept. A new feature of the agitation since the return of the delegates from Karachi is that a campaign of vilification has been started against the Honourable Prime Minister of Pakistan. In the earlier stages of the agitation, the removal of Sir Zafrullah Khan was demanded but some of the speakers have now been advocating that the Honourable Prime Minister should quit his office.
“4. It is said that ‘direct action’ will start at Karachi and that volunteers shall be despatched from the Punjab and other Provinces for the purpose. The ‘direct action’ will take the form of picketing of Ahmadi shops. It has also been threatened that if orders under section 144, Cr. P. C. are promulgated they shall be defied. The demands are as follows :—
(i) Sir Zafrullah Khan should be removed from the office of Foreign Minister;
(ii) Ahmadis should be declared as a non-Muslim minority;
(iii) Ahmadis holding key posts in Government should be relieved of their posts.
“5. The agitation has the support of the Jama’at-i-Islami, the Ahl-i-Sunnat-wal-Jama’at, the Ahl-i-Hadith and the Shias. The Pirs of Golra Sharif (Rawalpindi District), Syal Sharif (Sargodha District), Alipur Sayyadan (Sialkot District), Pir Shaukat Husain (Sajjada Nashin, Darbar Pir Sahib, Multan) and some others have blessed the agitation. Funds are being collected and ‘one rupee notes’ have been printed and are being sold. Riff-raff elements have also thrown their weight on the side of the agitators. The Bahawalpur branch of the Azad Pakistan Party has given a sum of Rs.1,000 to the agitators.
“6. When the news of the visit of the Honourable Prime Minister to Lahore on the 16th became known, a public meeting was held and it was said that hartal should be observed on the date of the arrival of H. P. M. and black flags exhibited on housetops. The speakers were careful to emphasise that violence should not be resorted to but they were at pains to excite and inflame public feeling. Some of the speakers, in the course of their speeches, said that policemen who are called upon to make arrests in the event of civil disobedience being launched should think of doomsday when they would have to answer for their acts which militate against their religious obligations. On the 16th morning, bands of school-boys and street urchins were sent around and shopkeepers asked to close. Several persons who would have liked to keep their shops open, were intimidated and they meekly succumbed to the exhortations of the bands of boys and others parading around the streets. The Ahmadis very wisely closed their shops on their own. A number of schools were also closed. Two incidents took place resulting in violence and bloodshed—one outside the Dyal Singh College and the other at the Ta’lim-ul-Islam. (an Ahmadiya institution) College. Brickbats were exchanged when the students of the colleges concerned refused to walk out and injuries were received. A mock funeral of Sir Zafrullah Khan was also taken out and a number of small processions paraded the streets. Law-abiding citizens did not like the demonstrations but for fear of being dubbed as Ahmadis refrained from expressing their disapproval openly.
“7. The dead line has been fixed for the 23rd when, it is said, ‘direct action’ will start at Karachi. The Ahrar leaders have worked up mass fury to such an extent that they might find it difficult to retrace their steps. They have been making demagogical and jingoistical speeches and only in order to save their face they will have to do something dramatic on the 23rd.
“8. Meetings are held in Lahore almost every night at which speeches are made with the purpose of exciting popular feeling against the Ahmadis. On the 16th the faces of some shopkeepers who refused to close their shops were blackened. A car was also slightly damaged by the demonstrators near the Dyal Singh College. On the 18th in the N. W. R. Workshop an Ahmadi, who had been worried and taunted for many days, became enraged and struck a non-Ahmadi with a crow-bar rendering him unconscious. He has since absconded and his whereabouts are not known. A depot holder in Lahore refused to sell wheat to an Ahmadi woman and ultimately relented when the woman gave an undertaking that she would take part in any agitation which might be organised against the Ahmadis. A student of the Primary School in Sant Nagar was surrounded by his classmates and slapped. Shouts of ‘Mirzai kutta’ were raised by them.
“9. The agitation is not confined to this Province alone. Nor do the demands on which it is ostensibly based fall within the purview of the Provincial Government. This Government, therefore, feel very handicapped in dealing with the situation effectively and think that it will considerably strengthen their hands if the Central Government could enunciate the firm policy that they want to adopt with reference to these demands. Whatever this policy may be, on its enunciation no one will be left in any doubt as to the stand the Pakistan Government desires to take. The Provincial Government feel that they are strong enough to implement that policy within the Province.
(Sd.) H. A. MAJID”
G. AHMAD, Esquire, P. S. P.,
Secretary to the Government of Pakistan,
Ministry of the Interior, Karachi.”
On the same day Mr. Anwar Ali, I. G. P., wrote the following note to the Chief Secretary:—
“Government may like to see the record of the speech made by Maulvi Muhammad Ali Jullundri at a meeting held at Lahore on 16th February 1953. One thing is very significant and that is that in a loquacious moment he admitted that he and his party were opposed to the partition. He said further that the reasons why they held that view should become apparent to the people and that, in any case, if that awakening had not taken place it would do so within a year or two. He also condemned the Government vigorously, his main target being the H. P. M. The speakers also maligned at this meeting the Chief Ministers of the Punjab and N. W. F. P. The H.P.M. is being branded as a Mirzai. In another meeting Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari described him as “budhulazina ahmaqoon” (fool of fools). Contempt is a characteristic of the speeches.
“2. At a time when food is short, unemployment rampant, business depressed and Kashmir popularly held to be lost, anyone who attempts to spread confusion is no friend of Pakistan. It is my view that the Ahrar and the other ulama who are backing them have been singularly successful in diverting the public attention from the serious problems which confront the country. This confusion will weaken the determination of the people to fight the problems and to remedy them. We have evidence to show that the Ahrar took money from the Bahawalpur branch of the Azad Pakistan Party. They are sabotaging Pakistan. Government should gird its loins and face the menace. Sympathy of the intelligent public is being lost and the foreigners have begun to question the ability of the Government to face the crisis created by the ulama. The representative of the ‘London Times’ gave the impression to an officer of the Punjab Government that the Central Government was too weak to deal effectively with the existing problems. The British Deputy High Commissioner in Lahore told me last night that he had been receiving reports that the situation in the country was very threatening and that a general flare-up was imminent. H. S. Suhrawardy, Malik Khizar Hayat Khan and the Nawab of Mamdot have met the British D. H. C. We have apprised the Central Government of the seriousness of the situation and let us hope that a firm line will be taken.
“3. Maulvi Muhammad Ali Jullundri has been delivering objectionable speeches before also and orders were issued that he should be prosecuted under section 124-A for a speech which he made at Montgomery. I am trying to find out what progress has been made in that case”.
As direct action could now be expected to assume at any time a practical shape, Mr. Anwar Ali instructed all Superintendents of Police and Group Officers of C. I. D. to be alert and to watch the situation carefully. These officers were also requested to gather information about the enrolment of volunteers. The figures received later showed that more than 55 thousand volunteers had been enrolled in the Province.
Realising that the situation was becoming serious and that some measures to meet the apprehended danger to law and order had immediately to be taken, the Prime Minister decided to hold a meeting of the Central Cabinet. Representatives of the Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province also were directed to attend this meeting. Accordingly the meeting was held on the evening of 26th February and was attended by Khwaja Shahab-ud-Din, the Governor, and Khan Abdul Qaiyum Khan, the Chief Minister, from the North-West Frontier Province and Mr. Muhammad Husain Chatha, the Revenue Minister, Mr. Ghias-ud-Din Ahmad, the Home Secretary and Mr. Anwar Ali, the Inspector-General of Police, from the Punjab. Mr. I. I. Chundrigar, the Governor, and Mr. Mumtaz Muhammad Khan Daultana, the Chief Minister, of the Punjab who both had been invited to the meeting had some other engagements in Lahore and could not, therefore, go to Karachi. They, however, gave full instructions to the Punjab Minister and the officers who flew to Karachi. The matters that had to be discussed at the meeting were the three demands which had been communicated to the Prime Minister on 22nd January and the threat to law and order arising out of the direct action programme which was being finalised by the Central Majlis-i-Amal. The Punjab representatives had been instructed to communicate to the Central Government that in the opinion of the Punjab Government the demands were unreasonable and were to be resisted with firmness. The session of the Cabinet continued till 9 p.m. but no decision could be taken. At about 2 o’clock the following morning another meeting of the Cabinet was called on receipt of information that on that morning the houses of the Governor-General and the Prime Minister were to be picketed by volunteers. This meeting, which was also attended by the Governor of Sind, the Governor and Chief Minister of North-West Frontier Province, the Chief Commissioner and I. G. P., Karachi, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Deputy Chief of Staff, took the following decisions:—
(1) to arrest all prominent leaders of the agitation including Maulana Akhtar Ali Khan of the ‘Zamindar’,
(2) to ban the ‘Azad’, the ‘Zamindar’ and the ‘Alfazl’,
(3) to warn Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad not to move out of Rabwah or to do anything which might cause excitement or provocation, and
(4) to stop the movement of volunteers to Karachi by taking action at the station of embarkation.
Armed with these decisions Mr. Chatha, the Revenue Minister, Mr. Ghias-ud-Din Ahmad, the Home Secretary and Mr. Anwar Ali, the I. G. P., returned to Lahore the same day.