SECTION 144 ORDERS RECALLED
The Sargodha cases for contravention of orders under section 144 were prosecuted vigorously and as we have already pointed out one of them resulted in conviction. The case pending at Gujranwala and the other which was pending at Sargodha were subsequently withdrawn and the persons who had been, convicted in the Sargodha case were ordered to be released.
There are two notes by the Home Secretary, one dated 17th July 1952, on page 7 of file No. 16(2)99, Volume I, and the other, dated 18th July 1952, on page 46 of file No. 16(2)93, Volume I, which show that the decision to withdraw the Gujranwala case must have been under the orders of the Chief Minister. The former note reads :
The other note reads :
Though Mr. Daultana does not admit that the decision to withdraw the case was his, it seems to be perfectly clear from the two notes mentioned above that the decision to withdraw was taken at a meeting of officers in which he was present, and the despatch with which the decision to withdraw was communicated to the District Magistrate, coupled with the fact that a decision of such importance could not have been taken by any officer on his own responsibility, clearly shows that the decision to withdraw the case was, in fact, that of the Chief Minister himself. The file shows that on 15th July 1952 the Home Secretary suddenly sent a wireless message to the District Magistrate, Gujranwala, asking him to see the Home Secretary on the following day and that the Deputy Commissioner came and saw the Home Secretary on 16th July when he was communicated the decision of the Government to withdraw the case. The only inference from all this is that the case was withdrawn under the orders of the Chief Minister.
We have mentioned that Maulana Akhtar Ali Khan and Maulvi Ghulam Ghaus Sarhaddi, the new President of Majlis-i-Ahrar, had come to Mr. Anwar Ali on 5th July 1952 and attempted to assure him that if the persons who had been arrested for defying orders under section 144 were released and the orders under section 144 withdrawn, the Ahrar as a party would make a public statement declaring that no speeches would be made by them which were liable to disturb the peace and tranquillity of the Province. The offer was subsequently repeated to the Chief Minister who directed Mir Nur Ahmad, D. P. R., to contact the Ahrar leaders to ascertain from them their wishes. Mir Nur Ahmad informed the Chief Minister that the Ahrar leaders were anxious to avoid a conflict with the Government and to carry on their agitation in a constitutional manner. Accordingly some of the Ahrar leaders met the Chief Minister on 19th July and agreed to issue a public statement giving an assurance not to resort to lawlessness or violence or to commit any breach of the law. On his part the Chief Minister agreed that if such a statement were issued, he would sympathetically consider the question of lifting restrictions on their meetings under section 144 and releasing their leaders who had bean convicted. In accordance with these arrangements, a statement on behalf of Amir-i-Shari’at Sayyad Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari, Maulvi Muhammad Ali Jullundri, Nazim-i-A’la, Majlis-i-Ahrar, Sahibzada Faiz-ul-Hasan, member, Working Committee, Majlis-i-Ahrar, and Maulana Muhammad Hussain Ghazi, Salar-i-A’la, Juyush-i-Ahrar-i-Islam, was published in the ‘Afaq’ of 21st July 1952. This statement was to the effect that in their struggle to have the Ahmadis declared a non-Muslim minority and to have Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan removed from the office of Foreign Minister, the Ahrar had in the past done nothing illegal, that they did not intend to do anything in future which might give grounds for an apprehension of violence, disorder or breach of law, that they considered the Punjab Government as their own Government, that the responsibility with which that Government, had been entrusted to maintain law and order was the Ahrar’s own responsibility to discharge which they would fully co-operate with the Government, and that it was not only the civic but religious obligation of the Ahrar to defend the life, property, honour and freedom of all citizens of Pakistan irrespective of their religious beliefs. On publication of this statement, the Chief Minister issued the following statement in the ‘Civil & Military Gazette’ of 22nd July 1952 :
Simultaneously a telegraphic message went from the Home Secretary to all District Magistrates informing them on 21st July 1952 that in view of the assurances given, by the Majlis-i-Ahrar-i-Pakistan to the Chief Minister and his acceptance of the assurances, orders under section 144, Criminal Procedure Code, prohibiting public meetings were to be withdrawn. And on 26th July the Home Secretary sent a wireless message to the District Magistrate and the Superintendent Jail, Mianwali, informing them that Government had remitted the unexpired sentence of Master Taj-ud-Din Ansari and that he should be released forthwith. On the same day a similar message was sent to the District Magistrate and. the Superintendent Jail, Jhang, directing the release of Sheikh Husam-ud-Din.
Just as the decisions taken in the conference of 5th July were a confession of helplessness to face and solve the issue whether Muslims were entitled publicly to speak in mosques on khatm-i-nubuwwat, the decision to withdraw orders under section 144 and pending cases arising from contraventions thereof and to release persons who had been found guilty of contravening those orders, had the effect of nullifying earlier decisions that the Ahrar had to be isolated and that eases against them which had been declared to be cognizable and non-bailable were to be vigorously pursued. The decisions of 5th July had restricted the District Magistrates’ powers to make arrests in or disperse meetings inside or outside the mosques and the decision of 2lst July amounted to an official recognition of the position that, provided the Ahrar did not assault the Ahmadis or rob their property or otherwise violate their honour, they were at full liberty to do whatever they liked to popularise the demands and to speak in whatever strain they liked against Ahmadis, their leaders and their beliefs. Hereafter there was no question of suppressing the spate of hatred that had been let loose against them or of doing anything to stop the gathering storm.
There is some difference in the evidence as to the date on which the undertaking by the Ahrar, which was published in the newspapers of 21st July, was given. According to Mr. Daultana, a deputation of the Ahrar led by Maulvi Muhammad Ali Jullundri met him in his office, probably on 18th July, in the presence of some officers. But from a question put by Mr. Yaqub Ali to Mir Nur Ahmad, it appears that the deputation waited on the Chief Minister on 19th July. An understanding between the Government and the members of the deputation having been arrived at, the question was taken up of drafting an appropriate statement. According to Mir Nur Ahmad and Mr. Ibrahim Ali Chishti, the draft of the terms in which the undertaking was to be published was considered in a meeting of the Ahrar leaders and themselves and was later published in the newspapers. Maulana Muhammad Bakhsh Muslim states that present in that conference were Maulana Abul Hasanat, Sayyad Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari, Sahibzada Faiz-ul-Hasan, Maulana Ghulam Muhammad Tarannum and Maulana Muhammad Bakhsh Muslim himself, and that the date of this conference was after the Multan firing, namely, on or after the 19th July. The conference was held at the premises of a workshop in Badami Bagh. As there is no record either of the leaders’ interview with the Chief Minister or of the subsequent conference and Mr. Daultana himself is not definite about, the date, we are inclined to accept the statement of Maulana Muhammad Bakhsh Muslim that this conference of the leaders with Mir Nur Ahmad and Maulvi Ibrahim Ali Chishti took place after the Multan firing and this is not only more likely but confirmed by a letter of the Punjab Government sent in reply to an inquiry by the Prime Minister about the incident. That being so, the announcement of the settlement with the Ahrar, coming as it did after the Kup incident, amounted to a public declaration that the Government was anxious to come to an understanding with the Ahrar at any cost.