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Persecution in Courts
An Ahmadi, charged under the anti-Ahmadiyya laws, has to go through a vexing, expensive and tortuous procedure to keep his head above water. A charge sheet is normally followed by arrest. As Ahmadis are mostly respectable citizens, they have no prior experience of police stations, courts and prisons. They find it very distasteful and painful to end up in prison, even if it is for a few days. Therefore, they have to run around to get legal help and try to arrange bail before arrest. The fortunate ones manage it, while most do not. These days, magistrates and district judges do not grant bails normally. Cases then have to go to the High Court and often to the Supreme Court to get release on bail. Many have stayed in jail for months and some even for years before they could get out and face the trial. All this consumes a great deal of physical, mental and financial resources and leaves the victim exhausted. Some of the legal events for only one month, September 1997, are mentioned below to give an idea of the judicial agony undergone by the victims.
1 Sept: Mr. Sarfraz of Sialkot, advocate, appeared in Lahore High Court to defend Mr. Naseer Ahmad and five other Ahmadis and applied that Section 295-A should be removed from the charge. The court directed the Sessions Court Sheikhupura to provide records. The prosecution has been going on for the last five years.
2 Sept: An advocate for Abdul Qadeer Shahid and two other Ahmadis waited upon the Supreme Court to have the Blasphemy charge removed which the High Court had upheld. Due to lack of time, the court did not hear the case. This case is nine years old.
4 Sept: Mr. Rehman, advocate from Rawalpindi had to proceed to Chakwal session court to defend Ahmadiyya claim to Dulmial Mosque. Ahmadis were required to appear in Chakwal in two other cases also, namely the graveyard case and the contempt case. More than 200 mullas and madrassa students had come to the courts' premises as a show of force. Fearing breakdown of law and order, the police was present in strength. The judges postponed the hearing.
5 Sept: Justice Ejaz Nisar of the Supreme Court heard the appeal of Mr. Shahid and two others. The advocate had prayed that the lower court be told not to proceed with the case until a decision on appeal for 'Quashment'. The judge did not accede to the request, however, he directed, rather wickedly, that the lower court must decide within two months. Quashment plea would be heard after the court vacations. Application for the bail for the accused was expected to be heard by the High Court on 10 September.
9 Sept: The Supreme Court accepted the plea for bail for Messers Bashirul Haq and Mubashir Ahmad ofPattoki. The police had, as an after-thought, added the section 295B to their charge sheet (Life imprisonment for defiling the Holy Quran). The Sessions Court and the Lahore High Court had earlier rejected bail applications.
10 Sept: Lahore High Court accepted the bail application of Mr. Shahid and two others for three days and told the accused to seek longer bail from the Sessions Court at Sheikhupura. On 13 Sept, the judge was on leave, another judge extended it for another three days. On 16 Sept, the new date, the dealing judge did not attend the court, as his uncle had died. On 17 September, an Addl Sessions Judge granted temporary bail until 26 September when a decision would be taken about confirmation. Throughout this period, the accused were liable to lose their freedom for even a minor lapse on their part.
13 Sept: Civil Judge Chiniot to hear 36 anti-Ahmadiyya cases. As the judges were on leave, the court gave a new date of 10 November 1997.
13 Sept: The Kharian Mosque case was due to be heard in the court, but no proceedings took place; Ahmadiyya defense team had to remain available. A new date of hearing, 27 September, was given.
17 Sept: Mr. Justice Bhandari heard the plea of Mr. Iqbal Ahmad from Narang, that his two charges be delinked. Mr. Iqbal has been charged for preaching, and for committing adultery with his own life, as she is a Muslim. The court accepted the plea and ordered that the matter be presented again on 27 October 1997.
16 Sept: Dr. Akhtar Majoka presented himself in the court, but no proceedings took place. A new date, 23 September, was given.
23 Sept: No proceedings could take place on Dr. Majoka's case. 30 October 1997 was given as the new date.
20 Sept: Five anti-Ahmadiyya cases from Tando Adam had been transferred to Karachi at Ahmadis' request. No proceedings took place on this date and a fresh date in next month was given. Seven of the accused had to travel 1500 km for the court appearance.
22 Sept: The magistrate could not hear the Graveyard case, so it was postponed until next month.
25 Sept: The area magistrate improperly sealed Ahmadiyya Mosque at Goleki, District Gujrat, without giving Ahmadis a hearing.
26 Sept: The Additional Sessions Judge Sheikhupura confirmed the bail application of Mr. Shahid and two others.
29 Sept: Two Ahmadis to appear in Court in Qasur to face charges under PPC 298-C. An advocate from Sialkot to defend.
30 Sept: Mr. Shahid and two others appeared in the Sessions Court. No proceedings- fresh date of 11 October 1997 was given.