Religious Persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
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Home Critical Analysis/Archives Report on Punjab Disturbances of 1953
Report of The Court of Inquiry


The other paper is the ‘Azad’ and enough has been said about it both in this part and elsewhere. It has published so much objectionable and obscene literature during the period under observation that we find it difficult to reproduce any samples. It has already been seen that some of these articles were brought to the notice of the province on three or four occasions by the Central Government. Each time the reply was that a warning had been given and at last the Ministry of Interior was compelled to say that since warnings have had no effect, the paper should be prosecuted. This was on 10th December 1952. The Punjab Government made no reply to this, but we have seen how it condoned towards the end of the month the very nasty article appearing in the paper of the 12th November 1952. In January 1953, even Mir Nur Ahmad was constrained to recommend suppression for six months, but the Chief Minister disagreed, and it was not until the Central Government had taken a Cabinet decision on 28th February that the paper was suppressed for a year.


Before closing this period, we should mention that on or about the 21st January, 1953, the Ulama delivered a challenge of  “direct action” to the Prime Minister at Karachi, without making it clear what they intended doing. Kh. Nazim-ud-Din, however, does not seem to have had any doubt that it would lead to a disturbance of the peace. “Past experience had shown, especially in pre-Partition days that all civil disobedience movements were started with the announcement that they would be peaceful and non-violent but that every one of them ended in violence.” On 16th February, when he came to Lahore, and was asked by the Chief Minister and the Governor to do something about the demands, he told them that he was “not prepared to take up a head-on fight with the Ulama” who were unanimous on the demands, but not on the advisability of the ultimatum. According to Mr. Chundrigar, the Prime Minister also said he was negotiating with the Ulama, and since Khwaja Nazim-ud-Din did not appear particularly apprehensive, it must be assumed that ha was hopeful about the negotiations, hopeful because he thought some of the ulama were opposed to “direct action”.

But the Punjab administration had no certainty in its mind. File No. 16(2) How was it understood by C.I.D. 102 shows that an intercepted letter on 1st February 1953 gave the C. I. D. an indication that the first step in direct action would be the social boycott of the Ahmadis, attended by “peaceful” picketing. On the 3rd February Mr. Anwar Ali wrote that the All Parties Convention set up at the instance of the Ahrar had been forced into a position where they must either resort to direct action or lose the following of their adherents. He added that although “direct action” had not so far been defined, at the initial phase, apparently, social and economic boycott of the Ahmadis may be sponsored. The Ahrar, he said, were conscious that for sustained effort the movement should be non violent, but they were not confident of success. Public has lost interest, says D.I.G.—3-2-53. “The public have lost interest in the Ahrar agitation as more important issues have come to the fore.” They were trying toenlist volunteers and should be watched. On the 5th February the D. S. P. (P) reported, in obedience to the D. I. G.’s verbal order to make inquiries, that “even the leaders of the Convention do not know what precisely they would do except that they would embark upon a direct action campaign”. Karachi would be the venue. It was believed, however, that the campaign would start from Karachi. All sources were emphatic that in the first phase a social boycott will be resorted to and that “peaceful” picketing of Ahmadi shops will follow.

On 16th February, as a result of the consequences of the Hartal which was D.I.G. not so hopeful 16-2-53. observed in honour of the Prime Minister at Lahore, Mr. Anwar Ali appears to have altered his opinion. He said that events were moving briskly and “today in Lahore two incidents resulting in violence have taken place. The law-abiding public is becoming sceptical about the ability of Government to handle the situation.” This is in marked contrast with the observation of the 3rd February that the public had lost interest in the agitation.

But we are not so sure, for it is evident from file No. 16 (2) 107, Vol. III S.P. (B) recommends detention.that danger signals had appeared even earlier than the 16th February. On the 13th February, S. P. (B), quoting from a source report that a decision had been taken to observe hartal, recommended detention for Master Taj-ud-Din, Sahibzada Faizul Hasan, Sayyad Muzaffar Ali Shamsi and Qazi Ehsan Ahmad, as they keenly supported direct action. He mentioned a poster issued by Shamsi as Secretary of the Majlis-i-Amal announcing a meeting on the 15th February at Delhi Gate, appealing to all Muslims to come “with burial clothes on their heads”. On the 14th February he again said there was intense propaganda and that people were asked to come “ready with their lives”. On the 16th February, he reported that at the previous day’s meeting it had been decided to start direct action by picketing Ahmadi business quarters and that 2,000 volunteers were to be sent to Karachi for that purpose. M. Akhtar Ali Khan, he said, had given an assurance that the Punjab Government was not likely to place restrictions on the movement of volunteers.

The D. I. G. noted that there was “no immediate danger”. But D. I. G. says “no immediate danger” This is again in remarkable contrast with his note of the same date on the other file—that the law-abiding public is becoming sceptical of the ability of Government to handle the situation.

It is possible that there was “no immediate danger” because Why “No immediate danger”. the agitation was to start in a place comparatively “remote” from Lahore, and if Lahore was concerned only with the flow of volunteers and M. Akhtar Ali Khan had an understanding with the Punjab Government, then there was cause for local complacency. But what about the two incidents of violence, the intense propaganda to come “ready with lives”, the requisitioning of burial clothes for quick burial? It is possible, again, that the words “immediate danger” were used in reply to S. P. (B)’s recommendation for the detention of certain firebrands.

In Court, Mr. Anwar Ali said that when he received intimation of the direct D. I. G. mislead by Master Taj-ud-Din action challenge, he proposed that Government should immediately address the Centre and find out its attitude, because on that depended how the agitation would develop. “Master Taj-ud-Din, who is now present in Court, himself told me that direct action would not actually start. Our information was that they were merely forcing the hands of Government to get a favourable decision. As to whether the Ahrar had any plan of action, I think they are the most confused people I have ever seen. They said on the 3rd February 1953, that they wanted to make an absolutely non-violent and sustained effort but I did not believe them in view of their past conduct in giving assurances and then going back on them”. His note of the 3rd February shows, however, that he did believe Master Taj-ud-Din and perhaps the astute leader also misled him into reporting that the public had lost interest in the agitation. We do not think the master acted confusedly, at least on this occasion. He quite naturally expected some manifestation of law and order activity from Government as a reaction to the challenge and was anxious to do something before he was thrown into jail. Mark the further confidences reposed by the Ahrar Leader in the C. I. D. Chief. “I have said in my written statement that the All Muslim Parties Convention had been forced into a position where they must either resort to direct action or lose their following. I got this information from Master Taj-ud-Din himself, now present in Court.” This also is mentioned in his report of the 3rd February, which, consequently, appears to be based solely on Master Taj-ud-Din’s information. Unless Master Taj-ud-Din was spying on his own organisation, we doubt the wisdom of his information being treated as “report-worthy” without specifying the source. Possibly Master Taj-ud-Din occasionally did some nominal injury to himself—by giving an impression that he was disclosing secrets—to secure a smooth career for his paper.

Finally, Mr. Anwar Ali said : “I frankly confess it was not clear to me what “direct action” D.I.G.’s confession and admission. would mean, but it is true that before the Partition it meant civil disobedience and violation of law and order. It is also true that the Ahrar aimed at raising 20,000 volunteers, but my view was that they were merely browbeating the Government, and I did not prepare myself for arresting them”. Here again, he relies on Master Taj-ud-Din, who told him that “they were merely forcing the hands of the Government to get a favourable decision”. “The Government” apparently means the Central Government, because it was that Government which had to accept or reject the demands. We think what we have reproduced from the files in this behalf, read with the statement of Mr. Anwar Ali, constitutes sufficient material for holding that Master Taj-ud-Din succeeded in putting Mr. Anwar Ali off the track by assuring him that nothing was going to happen and that the intention was merely to elicit a concession from the Centre. If this had not been the case, knowing as he did by experience that direct action means civil disobedience, which invariably leads to violence, he would not have been of the opinion, on the 16th February, that there was “no immediate danger”. But if the other voice with which he spoke on the same day—that the law-abiding public is becoming sceptical of Government’s ability to handle the situation—is the true voice, then, while on the one hand he proposed that the Centre’s attitude to the challenge should be ascertained, on the other he might well have accepted S. P. (B)’s advice that detention is the better part of valour in law-and-order warfare.

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