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THE DECISIONS OF 5TH JULY 1952.
On or about the 28th June 1952, Mr. Daultana went to Nathiagali to attend a meeting of the Basic Principles Committee. The “Zamindar” reported in its issue of 1st July that he had held a two-hour discussion with his officers before he left. Ch. Fazal Ilahi for the Punjab Government argued that during this discussion Mr. Daultana had instructed his officers as to the decisions that were to be taken at the meeting of all District Magistrates scheduled for the 5th July. Mr. Daultana does not remember whether he had held any specific “two-hour discussion”, but said he was no doubt meeting his officers fairly regularly. Nor could he say whether he discussed with them the subject matter of the proposed conference.
The conference was presided over by the Chief Secretary and included, in addition to the district delegates, the Inspector-General, the D. I. G. (C. I. D.), the Home Secretary and the Director of Public Relations. The decisions taken were as follows : (1) Orders under section 144 should not mention the venue of the meeting. (2) If an Ahrar or an Ahmadi should address a public meeting not organised by his party, a report should be made to Government if he makes an actionable speech, but he should not be arrested meanwhile. (3) Meetings which take place even outside mosques should not be dispersed, but cases may be registered later for defiance of the ban against prominent leaders of Ahmadis or Ahrar, as the case may be * * * (6) The All Muslim Parties Convention, proposed to be held on 13th July 1952, should not be interfered with (even though it would be in defiance of the existing ban on meetings). It may prove useful if the intending participants—the Ulama—are contacted and prevailed upon to denounce violence.
We have seen how the instructions of the 5th June were diluted by the letter of 28th June—that if a prohibitory order has been defied, action should be taken only against the Ahrars and of them only the prominent ones. Decisions of 5th July weakened the administrative position. The intention was to isolate the Ahrar from other people. Incidentally, it would also isolate the prominent Ahrar from the lesser fry among themselves. It should make the big ones feel that the crown of martyrdom was for them alone. The earlier decision of 19th June, relating as it did to mosques, is intelligible. It would be foolish to disperse a meeting in a mosque or to make arrests there. But to say that meetings held even outside mosques should not be disturbed till the poison is spread, is to turn a prohibitory order into burlesque. A prohibitory order means that the thing it prohibits is not to take place. If a meeting has been proclaimed for a certain hour at a certain place, the simplest thing to do—if it has been prohibited—is to post half a dozen policemen at the appointed place a couple of hours before the meeting to prevent people from assembling, and this is not a thing that we are suggesting for the first time. But the Government says : Let them have fun, and if five persons make speeches and only one of them is an Ahrar, then if he is not a prominent person, let there be no prosecution : the order has not been violated.
The Centre Government has been told that all Ahmadi and Ahrar meetings have been prohibited. Effect of decision of 5th July. It has the appearance of a big decision in Karachi, and it is noted with satisfaction. But consider the effect of it. The meetings are allowed to take place. Non-Ahrar and non-Ahmadis are allowed to speak, to speak anything abominable, and even the ordinary law is suspended against them. For if the ordinary law is invoked, the policy of isolation suffers. Maulvi Muhammad Ali of Sargodha Jamia Mosque will, therefore, be left severely alone with his blackboard—“Liaqat Ali Khan has misused funds during his American tour”—because he no longer belongs to the Ahrar. How many prominent Ahrar can you produce ? There were six of them in Gujranwala, two in Sargodha, and you can add two for extras. You will find as we proceed that Manzoor Ahmad of Sialkot, described as “a staunch worker against Ahmadis” and Bashir Ahmad, “Khateeb of Jamia Masjid at Pasrur, a bigoted Ahrari and President of the local Majlis-i-Ahrar, who was sentenced for a month in 1932 agitation” were not prosecuted for offensive speeches made on the occasion of the Gulu Shah fair in November 1952 because they were “petty people”.
Then if any unfortunate person is both an Ahrar and a prominent Ahrar and cannot therefore Further criticism. escape prosecution, decision No. 2 comes to rescue him. It says that if an Ahrar or an Ahmadi addresses a public meeting not organised by his party, no action should be taken against him without the previous approval of Government. Knowing that the Ahrar adopted the device of withdrawing their meetings to the mosques when a ban was imposed on them, is it conceivable that it occurred to none of the officers present at the conference that the Ahrar would get some one else to organise the meeting and give it the name of a Defence Conference or some such thing? It is not conceivable, and, therefore, it can well be argued in a world which depends for most things on reasoning and inference, that, under the cover of a ban, the intention was to give the maximum possible scope for holding and addressing meetings. If that was not the intention of the decision, it undoubtedly produced that effect.
These decisions were brought to Mr. Daultana’s notice by the Home Secretary’s note of 7th July, which is as follows :
What was “the general policy already approved of and decided by H. C. M.”? It was the policy laid down in the conference of 25th May, says Mr. Daultana, “and that policy must have been discussed by me with the officers concerned in the ordinary course of official routine”. Ch. Fazal Ilahi said it was discussed just before Mr. Daultana left for Nathiagali in a “two hour meeting”. Mr. Daultana’s statement does not contradict this allegation seriously. But if the reference is to the policy letter of the 25th May; why have two such additional decisions been taken as virtually nullify the effect of the earlier decision ? Mr. Daultana does not think the two letters were inconsistent. “The letter of the 6th June merely banned the meetings but did not direct their dispersal by force.” But look at the language of the letter of 6th June : “After careful consideration, Government have decided that in the general interest of the public peace and tranquillity, neither the Ahrar nor the Ahmadis should be permitted to hold public meetings under any name or garb. You should, therefore, take preventive action under section 144, Criminal Procedure Code, whenever any party intends to hold a public meeting.” We think it is very illogical to say that although the object was to prevent a meeting from taking shape at all, if the police arrived five or ten minutes late, and five or ten persons had already collected, they were not to be dispersed. Carrying this logic further still, from that stage onward the police could prevent people from assembling. If the conveners of the meeting were satisfied with carrying on the meeting with five or ten persons already assembled, or as many of them as had assembled before the arrival of the police, they would be allowed to do so.
But then why was it necessary to hold a conference on the 5th July ? The case of mosques had already been covered by the message of 19th and the letter of 28th June, and in broad principle the policy letter of 5th June continued to hold the field. It is here that the words “approved of and decided by H. C. M.” become significant. They have particular reference to the Chief Minister, not to a previous policy letter.
It is unfortunate again that neither Mr. Ghias-ud-Din Ahmad nor Mr. Anwar Ali were questioned about the “two-hour” discussion. Here the fault is not only that of Mr. Yaqub Ali, who had to explain away the obvious meaning of the Home Secretary’s note, but also that of Ch. Fazal Elahi, who was trying to prove a meeting. But his contention is that the meaning is clear enough, and the circumstances, as we have pointed out, are in his favour.