On Monday, October 30, 2000 four unidentified gunmen opened fire on members of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community when they were offering Fajr (morning) prayers inside their Mosque, killing five persons and injuring another seven. The incident occured in Ghatiyanwalla, a small village, near Pasroor in Punjan District. Those who were martyred are: Iftikhar Ahmad, Shahzad Ahmad, Ghulam Muhammad, Ata-Ullah and Abbas Ali. We present here the news as it appeared in different leading newspapers and other channels as well as the statements of so-called religious leaders, who provoke such incidents and yet put the blame on either the Government or the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
An inside view of the Ahmadiyya Mosque, Ghatialian, Pakistan. Bullet holes are visible on the walls and the blood of the martyres is evident on the floor.
Pictures courtesy: Mr. Omar Khan.
Monday, 30 October, 2000, 13:22 GMT
Gunmen kill five at prayer meeting
Gunmen have opened fire at a prayer meeting of the minority Ahmediya sect in the Pakistani province of Punjab, killing at least five worshippers and wounding another seven.
Police said the attack occured in a village near the town of Sialkot, when four unidentified men started shooting Ahmedis who were leaving their mosque after early morning prayers.
The motive for the attack is not yet known but human rights groups have constantly highlighted the persecution suffered by the Ahmedis in Pakistan, where in 1974 a constitutional amendment declared the sect to be heretical, even though the Ahmedis regard themselves as part of the Islamic faith.
5 killed, 10 injured in attack on Ahmadis' Bait al-Zikr By Rana Jawad
LAHORE: Gunmen opened fire at a prayer meeting of banned Ahmadia sect on Monday morning, killing five people and injuring 10 in village Ghatialian on the outskirts of Sialkot, police and witnesses said. The attack came as fears simmered of violence against the Ahmadis following recent outburst against them.
Police said the gunmen used automatic weapons and fled by a car with no number plate. Bullets peeled off the plaster on the walls of Bait al-Zikr (House of Prayer) where members of the Ahmadi sect meet to pray, and splattered blood all over.
Eighteen people were listening to the sermon of a cleric after morning prayers when four men arrived the place, witnesses said adding three entered the main hall of the building while one stood guard outside.
"They sprayed bullets in all corners targeting everyone," a terrified witness, Qamar Ahmed, who survived the attack told the police. Ahmed's white clothes soaked in blood as he was removed to a nearby clinic by the police. "It took him several hours to recover his senses before he was able to recall the incident," Pasrur DSP Raja Riaz told the News.
"I rolled myself to a corner as I saw people falling all over," Ahmed told the police adding the assailants had long beards and were wearing shalwar kameez. Four people were killed on the spot while the fifth died at a Lahore hospital. The critically wounded were removed to Pasrur district hospital.
Those killed were identified as Iftekhar, Shehzad, Ghulam Muhammad, Abbas Ali and Atta Ullah, while the injured were identified as Naseer Ahmed, Qayyum Aslam, Muhammad Arif, Master Muhammad Aslam, Nadeem Aslam and Azeem Aslam.
Cries and screams followed the killing as the tiny village mourned the deaths. The village has nearly 5000 people, half of them Ahmedis. The village is the second largest sacred place for Ahemdis after Rabwah near Chiniot. "We have always lived in peace but the attack has devastated us,", said Atta, whose younger brother died in the attack.
A 1974 constitutional amendment during Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's government had declared the sect outside Islam after a countrywide movement against them. A 1984 decree by military ruler General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq banned it from using Islamic forms of worship or describing its places of worship as mosques. Ahmedis are reviled by Muslims as heretics who believe that Holy Prophet Mohammed (Pbuh) is the last prophet.
Muslim residents said they had never been involved in any violence and had lived in peace. According to locals, a man who died in the attack was a Sunni. Shehzad Ahmed, 11, was inside the hall when the assailants sprayed bullets, a source said.
Police said they could not pin any motive to the killing. "It was meant to stir internal disturbances. The notorious Indian intelligence agency, RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) could be involved in the attack," a senior police official said. The village falls close to the border with India.
"We are exploring all possibilities and the circumstantial evidence collected from the scene suggests the operation was executed in a professional way," said Deputy Inspector-General of Gujranwala police Ahmed Nasim.
Sources also speculate involvement of a feared underground outfit, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, in the killing. "LJ has a history of attacking Ahmedis and their involvement is a possibility," a police source said quoting the kidnapping-cum-murder of a Qadiani in Chiniot last year. Three LJ activists including Ijaz alias Jaji were killed in a police shootout after they had kidnapped and killed a Qadiani.
Police said no organisation had accepted responsibility for the attack. Police had launched a massive search in nearby districts in a desperate attempt to trace the killers. Witnesses told the police the killers escaped towards Baddo Malhi. The local police station has no telephone. This delayed the district police response. Even the wireless messages had to be aired from Pasrur an hour after the incident.
Meanwhile, following the killing of five Qadyanis, security was enhanced around the religious places in the city and elsewhere in the country on Monday. Talking to reporters at a press conference, the Lahore police chief said that the security had been beefed up in and around all religious places, including mosques and Imambargahs, and the worship places of the minorities.
Special security measures had been taken to avoid any such incident in the city, he said and added that police patrolling had also been increased around all important religious places. Besides, men in plain clothes had been deployed at sensitive places.
Our Sialkot correspondent adds: Security of minorities' worship places has been tightened across the country following the terrorist incident in Pasrur. Official sources told The News here that the government had sought a detailed lists of the minorities' religious places from the concerned departments. All the law-enforcement agencies had also been directed to provide tight security to the minorities and their religious gatherings, the sources added. They said security agencies had started round-the-clock vigil of the minorities' religious places situated in Sialkot and Narowal districts.
Religious groups term Qadiyanis killing an act of anti-state elements By our correspondent
LAHORE: Religious quarters have condemned the killing of five Qadiyanis inside their worship place in Pasrur on Monday. They indicated that fast-growing world support to Qadiyanis and their anti-Islamic activities might have been the cause of the incident. They held the government responsible for the incident as it overlooked the people's reaction towards Qadiyanis' activities. [Note #1]
Jamaat-i-Islami Secretary General Munawar Hasan while denouncing the incident said his party was against terrorism and bloodshed. He believed that it was the act of anti-state elements which exploited the growing unrest among religious quarters against the activities of Qadiyanis. [Note #2]
He said it could have been a reaction to the patronage given to Qadiyanis by certain people among the ruling quarters and the growing international support to them. Jamiat Ulama-e-Pakistan president Maulana Abdul Sattar Niazi termed it an international conspiracy to create lawlessness and unrest in the country, and to present Qadiyanis as victims of Islamic fundamentalism. He said main aim of the Qadiyaniat Ordinance was to prevent such bloodshed and since its enactment no incident of violence was reported agaisnt Qadiyanis. He demanded judicial inquiry of the incident. [Note #3]
Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam information secretary Riaz Durrani said anti-state elements were behind the incident. He said status of Qadiyanis was a settled issue but few elements in government, with support of foreign agencies, had been trying to resurrect it. A leader of the Qadiyani community termed the incident a part of ongoing religious terrorism in the country. Talking to The News on condition of anonymity, he said their team which went to Pasrur to ascertain the facts had not yet returned, so the official statement on the matter would be issued after one or two days.
He, however, said that certain elements in the country were enjoying complete liberty to provoke religious hatred which was not checked by any official agency and such acts of fanaticism erupted as a result of that. He said unless a concerted policy was made to check such elements and concrete steps were taken to stop them, religious terrorism could not be controlled.
Five die in Sialkot sectarian attack By Our Correspondent
SIALKOT, Oct 30: Five people were killed and nine wounded when four armed assailants opened fire on worshippers offering their Fajr prayers at Baitul Zikr, a place of worship in Pasrur belonging to the Qadiani community, some 52km from here, on Monday morning.
The killings took place in the Ghutialiyan village situated on the Narowal-Muridke Road.
The assailants reached the village in a wagon at 4.45am. Two of them stood outside the building and the other two entered the hall and opened fire on the worshippers.
Two worshipers died on the spot and 12 were wounded. Later, two more died at a hospital in Narowal and the fifth wounded person died in Lahore.
Narowal AC Muneer Mubarak Khan identified the dead as Shehzad, Iftikhar, Abbas, Atta and Ghulam Mohammad.
A press note issued by the Sialkot district magistrate confirmed that the victims were the Qadianis. It described the condition of all the wounded as serious but did not give their names. It did not tell how many were driven to Lahore and Narowal.
The village where the killings took place was sealed off and the Qadianis were taken to "safer places" by the administration.
Chief Executive Pervez Musharraf and Punjab Governor Mohammad Safdar who visited Gujranwala on Monday expressed concern over the killings and directed the Sialkot district administration to arrest the terrorists at the earliest.
Tuesday October 31, 2000
Firing on place of worship near Pasroor, five dead.
LAHORE: ... After the armed persons attack on Qadiani place of worship in Ghatiyaliyan village near Pasrur and death of five persons, District Magistrate Sialkot has issued the following Press Note. Monday morning around 06:15 four unidentified persons arrived in a car to Qadiani Baitul Zikr, situated at Ghatiyaliyan, Narowal-Mureedke Road, two of them stood near the car while the other two entered the Baitul Zikr and opened indiscriminate fire. Twelve persons out of the 20 to 25 present there were injured. One of the injured died on the spot, two more died after reaching Narowal Hospital while two more succumbed to their injuries after reaching Lahore. According to the Press Note Police of Sheikhupura Narowal and Sialkot Districts is trying to arrest the culprits. According to correspondent from Pasrur the registration number of the car used by culprits was not national. Those who died in the incident were Iftikhar Ahmad, Shehzad Ahmad, Ghulam Muhammad, Ataullah and Abbas Ali while Muhammad Boota, Nadeem Ahmad, Tehseen Ahmad Yasir, Mohammad Aslam and Naseer Ahmed were injured. In the meantime, according to the correspondent from Sialkot, the incident took place in the area of Police Station Qila Kalarwala. All the people were busy in prayers when the firing took place. Seven persons were injured in this incident who have been admitted in different hospitals. Chief Executive General Pervaiz Musharraf, taking serious notice of the firing incident on Qadiani place of worship, has directed Governor Punjab, Inspector General Punjab and Commissioner Gujranwala to immediately arrest the culprits. According to a Police spokesperson this incident could be a result of past rivalry. According to Jang's correspondent from Hafizabad, Punjab Advisor for Religious Affairs Hafiz Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, expressing his grief over the incidence has said that "Minorities has a right to live in this country and Islam is the greatest protector of minorities. We condemn this incident."
[#1] 40 million people joining Ahmadiyya community, in one year, is growing world's support! Does it justify the unrest among religious fanatics? Is practicing one's faith and praying un-islamic?
[#2] Who is exploiting and provoking religious terrorism? Read the daily newspapers which are full of open threats to Ahmadiyya Community mostly saying that if Government does not stop Ahmadiyya community from practicing their faith then people would take care of them? Isn't it a clear evidence that these so-called leaders are provoking terrorism themelves. Some of the clippings are available in Political Statements section here.
[#3] Unfortunately behind every incident they can only see International conspiracy. They cannot see their own wrong doings, conspiracies and how systematically they create the situation of provoking religious terrorism. The so-called Qadianiyat Ordinance completely failed to protect Ahmadiyya Community from terrorism, as it was never meant for their protection but to restrict their freedom of speech, thought and freedom of religion. Every year many Ahmadis are killed and their properties, businesses and Mosques are destroyed but Maulana Niazi, perhaps, don't read these news.