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This district is an important centre of the Ahrar, many of whom come from the districts of Jullundur, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana and Amritsar which are also the home districts of most of the colonists. Up to January 1953, the Ahrar-Ahmadiya controversy here took the same course as elsewhere. On the occasion of the Prophet’s birthday celebrations on 1st December 1952, the Ahrar displayed banners on which were written the demands that the Ahmadis be declared a minority and that Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan be removed from the Cabinet. After this the demands became a regular feature in the pre-prayer or post-prayer speeches. The speeches were directed not only against the Ahmadis but also against the Government. At a public meeting held at Jaranwala these demands were reiterated in speeches made by Maulvi Feroze-ud-Din, Hafiz Abdul Qadeer, Maulvi Inayat Ullah Mujahid, Maulvi Mirdad and Maulvi Abdur Rahim. Similar meetings were held at Lyallpur, Samundri, Toba Tek Singh, Tandlianwala and Gojra. All along razakars were being enrolled who took an oath on the Qur’an and signed the pledge for direct action with their blood, Subscription for the movement came in easily. The number of razakars reached 9,000 and funds collected amounted to Rs. 30,000.
The movement had the support of many a Muslim Leaguer. In fact many councillors of the League belonged to the Ahrar party and actually influenced the public in favour of the movement.
Ghulam Nabi Janbaz of Lyallpur, Qazi Muhammad Husain of Tandlianwala and Maulvi Obed Ullah of Lyallpur were arrested on 27th February under the direction of the Provincial Government. On 1st March a procession set out from the Jami’ Masjid, Lyallpur, for the railway station to see off a batch of 15 razakars under the leadership of Maulvi Muhammad Yusuf, Khatib of Jami’ Masjid, which was proceeding to Karachi. No arrests were made, because telephonic instructions received by the Superintendent of Police from Lahore were that razakars proceeding to Karachi were not to be arrested. On the following day, Sahibzada Iftikhar-ul-Haq made a highly inflammatory speech in front of Railway Station, Lyallpur, where he had been taken in procession by a crowd of about 6,000 people prior to his departure for Lahore with about 100 razakars. He was detrained at Salarwala Railway Station and arrested. Public meetings and processions were banned by an order under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure on 3rd March. Despite this, however, on receiving news of the firing in Sialkot a procession of 4,000 to 5,000 moved from the Jami’ Masjid to the Deputy Commissioner’s house. Before it reached its destination, thirteen persons were arrested and the procession was dispersed. The Agricultural College closed and razakars started pouring in from the country. In the evening, the Deputy Commissioner held a meeting of prominent citizens which was also attended by the Presidents of the District Muslim League and the City Muslim League. The attitude of both these gentlemen was anything but co-operative, and the latter even stated that his attitude was determined by his interview with the President of the Provincial Muslim League whom he had seen at Lahore a short while earlier.
On the 4th March there was a complete hartal in the town and some 7,000 men collected in the Jami’ Masjid where speeches were made by several maulvis condemning the firing at Sialkot. After the meeting, three separate processions set out which subsequently got mixed up and swelled to 10,000. They then made for the Deputy Commissioner’s house and, reaching there, repeated their demands to him and offered themselves for arrest. The Deputy Commissioner, however, tactfully diverted and himself led the procession towards the jail where leaders of the procession and 124 other persons were arrested. The Superintendent of Police also accompanied the procession.
In response to the Deputy Commissioner’s request to the Home Secretary for the military, a battalion of 9/8th Punjab Regiment arrived on the night of 4th/5th.
On 5th March, 50 volunteers were arrested and dropped twenty miles away and 55 members of a procession were arrested under section 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code. The news of firing at Lahore was received at Lyallpur on 6th March. There were several processions formed in protest and about 125 persons were arrested. The Chenab Express was detained near Railway Station, Lyallpur, by volunteers coming from Chak Jhumra. News was also received that Martial Law had been declared in Lahore. In the evening came the announcement of the Chief Minister to the effect that the Punjab Government agreed with the demands of the agitators and that these with the views of the Punjab Government were being communicated to the Centre and a Minister from the Province was going to Karachi to press them before the Cabinet. This appeal was taken by the agitators as tantamount to a surrender by the Punjab Government and in consequence the campaign was intensified, some of the Muslim League M. L. As. proposing after this to offer themselves for arrest.
The 7th March was a day of rowdyism and lawlessness. Three different processions were taken out and as many as 107 men were arrested, including Sheikh Bashir Ahmad, President, City Muslim League, who courted arrest. The District Courts were attacked by a mob of 10,000 which broke windows, forced Magistrates to close their Courts and then entered the Deputy Commissioner’s house. A retail cloth shop of the Lyallpur Cotton Mills was looted, the railway line damaged and three trains held up near the railway station. Shops and passengers on the railway station were robbed, some women in the train molested, and a cabinman seriously injured. The mob was asked to disperse and on its refusing to obey, the District Magistrate ordered the police to open fire. Accordingly 47 rounds were fired and four persons were killed and four injured. Curfew was imposed after this.
On the same day, some Muslim League M. L. As. led a procession in Samundri.
On 8th March, a mob of 20,000 gathered to say funeral prayers for the dead of the previous day. After the prayers a procession was formed which paraded the streets. Another procession was taken out from the Agricultural College. The curfew was defied throughout the day and about 110 persons were arrested. On hearing that a mob was making for the Chiniot Bazar, the Deputy Commissioner and the Deputy Inspector-General of Police went there with a military patrol and met an aggressive mob. The mob was declared an unlawful assembly and was ordered to disperse, but the order was not obeyed and the District Magistrate ordered the military to open fire. As a result three persons were killed and one wounded.
Some Ahrar volunteers came from Gujranwala in a truck fitted with a mike. They evaded arrest and drove to Jhang where they were arrested. They were carrying with them three revolvers, ample ammunition and a sum of Rs. 30,000.
On the same evening, a mob cut off the wires of the internal transmission system inside the city.
A full-day curfew was clamped on 9th March, but despite this students of the Agricultural College took out a long procession. Razakars poured in from the country and about 120 of them, who had camped in the Jami’ Masjid, were arrested. In the evening, the District Magistrate called a meeting of prominent citizens at which the President of the District Muslim League merely acted as a spokesman of the Committee of Action.
On the 10th March came the second appeal of the Chief Minister directing firm action against the agitators. This produced good effect, because it gave a clear direction to the District officers. The movement, therefore, began to subside and, although a procession of volunteers came out of the Jami’ Masjid on 17th March, the mosque was cleared with the assistance of the mutawalli on the 19th March and the district returned to normal on the 20th March.
Throughout the period no injury was caused to the life or property of any Ahmadi; nor any damage to any property in the city or in the industrial area. There were two incidents of private firing, each by an Ahmadi under a misapprehension, and some children were injured in each.
The other towns in the district, which were affected by the agitation, were Chak Jhumra, Jaranwala, Dijkot, Samundri, Tandlianwala, Gojra, Toba Tek Singh and Kamalia, but no force had to be used in these places and no damage to life or property of Ahmadis was caused.
Total funds seized from the agitators amounted to Rs. 4,723-2-3.