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Anti-Ahmadi riots took place in the second week of April 1989 at Nankana Sahib and some adjoining villages. A statement made in this regard by a spokesman of the Ahmadis on April 15 is at Annexure “A”.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan constituted a mission to visit the scene of occurrence and to ascertain facts. The report compiled by the mission was sent on May 29 to the Chief Secretary, Government of Punjab, and his comments requested by June 19 (Annexure “B“). As no comments have been received, the report is being published as compiled originally.
Dr. Mubashar Hassan, a member of the mission that visited Nankana Sahib, gave a statement on June 3 saying that the Punjab Government had totally failed to protect the weaker sections of society, and the anti-Ahmadi riot at Nankana Sahib was a case in point (Annexure “C“).
On June 5, a spokesman of the Punjab Government described Dr. Mubashar Hassan’s statement as baseless and misleading (Annexure “D“).
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan felt obliged to comment on the June 5 statement made by a spokesman of the Government of Punjab. This was done through a Press Release on June 7 (Annexure “E“).
A team of the International Commission of Jurists visited Pakistan in April 1987 to assess the state of Human Rights in Pakistan after the lifting of Martial Law. Among other matters, it also studied the situation of the Ahmadis in Pakistan. Some of their observations are reproduced below as they appear relevant to the subject of this report.
“The Ahmadis have suffered a relentless decline in their religious freedom.”
“While there are public order concerns arising out of the hostility of some Muslims to Ahmadis, these are not being instigated by Ahmadis. On the contrary they are suffering violence both to their person and places of worship with no serious attempt being made to afford them protection.”
“The Government appears to be either ignoring unprovoked attacks on Ahmadi places of worship or allowing public order to be used as a pretext for stopping acts of worship.”
“A number of Ahmadi mosques have also been sealed up on the instructions of local officials.”
“It is not clear why the state should be justified in backing the refusal of some Muslims to tolerate the religious practices of others anymore than it would be in supporting an assailant against the victim.”
“Ahmadis are now effectively disenfranchised.”
“There are undoubtedly substantial doctrinal differences between the Ahmadiyya and other Muslim sects but the recognition of Islam as the state religion and maintenance of public order do not require the persecution which the Ahmadis are currently enduring. The Government should, therefore, reverse the measures which it has been taking against the Ahmadi community and take steps to ensure that they do not suffer unlawful discrimination or attacks on their person and places of worship.”
Concern over attack on Ahmadiya members
LAHORE – Jammat Ahmadiya Lahore Secretary, Raja Ghalib Ahmed, has expressed strong resentment over recent incidents of attacks on members of Ahmadiya community in the districts of Shekhupura and Faisalabad.
Addressing a Press conference at a local hotel on Friday, Raja Ghalib demanded that both the Federal and the Punjab governments conduct impartial inquiries into these incidents and make public “the conspiracy behind the whole drama.”
He said that riot against the Ahmadi community had started when some miscreants started announcing on loudspeakers in Gujranwala on April 9 that a copy of the Holy Quran had been burnt in an Ahmadiya prayer centre.
He observed that these miscreants later proceeded to the Ahmadiya prayer centre and burnt to ashes all the houses and stores belonging to Ahmadis.
Two similar incidents, Raja Ghalib said, later took place on Nankana prayer centre of Ahmedis on April 11 and 12 where all the houses belonging to Ahmadis were either demolished or burnt after looting.
He said that all this happened in the presence of local police authorities. He said that three places of worship and 50 houses were burnt or damaged and more than 15 Ahmadis were seriously injured during these incidents.
The Chief Secretary
SUBJECT: Anti-Ahmadia Riots at Nankana Sahib April 1989.
Prior to its finalisation, a report on the Anti-Ahmadia Riots at Nankana Sahib, prepared by the commission, is enclosed for your comments.
I should be grateful if you will let us have your comments by June 19, soon after which we propose to release the report.
Alleged violence against Ahmadis criticised
LAHORE, June 3: Dr. Mubashar Hassan, former Finance Minister, has said that the Punjab Government has totally failed to protect the weaker sections of society.
In a statement issued here on Friday, he alleged that the administration of District Sheikhupura was guilty of becoming a party to the preparation of violence against members of the Ahmadi community and against industrial labour.
Dr. Hassan said that on April 12, 26 houses of Ahmadis were broken into, damaged and their contents put to fire, resulting in the caving in of roofs in several cases. Damage of more than Rs. 3 million was inflicted, he added.
Some attacks were carried out under the protection of the police and the duty magistrates, he said. The attacks were pre-planned and organised, taking place simultaneously in separate localities, conducted by men equipped with inflammable material and incendiary devices.
He urged all patriotic political parties to raise voice against patronising anti-social elements who were responsible for such incidents. --PPI
Mubashar’s statement baseless
LAHORE June 5: A spokesman for the Punjab Government has described the observation of former Federal Finance Minister Dr. Mubashar Hassan about the failure of Punjab Government to protect the weaker section of the society like Ahmadia community as baseless and misleading.
The Punjab Government, the spokesman said, had been providing all possible care, encouragement and assistance to all minority communities and they were all enjoying full rights of citizenship and participating in community life and national affairs actively.
According to a national decision and provisions of the Constitution and law, Ahmadis were a minority community and if they accept this position no untoward situation would arise even locally, the spokesman added.
Commenting on June 1 incident on Lahore-Sheikhupura Road, the spokesman said that an enquiry was already under way. --PPI
THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF PAKISTAN HAS NOTED WITH CONCERN THE STATEMENT MADE BY A SPOKESMAN OF THE GOVERNMENT OF PUNJAB DENYING THE REPORT OF HRCP ON THE ANTI-AHMADI RIOTS AT NANKANA SAHIB. THE STATEMENT PUBLISHED ON 6.6.89 NOT ONLY DENIED ALLEGATIONS MADE BY HRCP REGARDING ADMINISTRATIVE INACTION BUT ALSO JUSTIFIED THE RIOT ON THE GROUNDS THAT THE AHMADIA COMMUNITY DESERVED SUCH VIOLENCE AS THEY REFUSED TO ACCEPT A MINORITY STATUS. HRCP BELIEVES THAT REGARDLESS OF THE SOCIAL, ECONOMIC, RELIGIOUS OR POLITICAL STATUS OF CITIZENS, THE STATE IS BOUND TO PROTECT ITS CITIZENS. THE CONSTITUTION OF PAKISTAN GUARANTEES EQUAL TREATMENT IN LAW, PROTECTION TO LIFE, PROPERTY AND LIBERTY OF EACH CITIZEN. THE STATE CANNOT BE PERMITTED TO DISCRIMINATE AMONGST CITIZENS ON THE BASIS OF BELIEF. GOVERNMENTS ARE DUTY BOUND TO PROTECT EVERY CITIZEN PARTICULARLY THOSE WHO ARE VICTIMISED BECAUSE OF THEIR BELIEF, SEX OR CREED.
THE COMMISSION HAS DEMANDED THAT THE GOVERNMENT SET UP A JUDICIAL ENQUIRY INTO THE HAPPENINGS AT NANKANA SAHIB. ALL MEASURES SHOULD BE TAKEN TO DISCOURAGE CRIMINAL ACTION RATHER THAN ENCOURAGE IT AND JUSTIFY IT.
REPORT ON ANTI-AHMADIA
In the second week of March the Press in Pakistan reported incidents of assault and arson by mobs incensed at the news of the alleged burning of a copy of the Holy Quran. The houses of Ahmadia Community at Nankana Sahib and Adjoining villages, 60-70 miles to the West of Lahore, were the target.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan taking .congnizance of the press reports and appeals from some members of the Ahmadia community constituted a mission to visit the scene of occurrence. The mission visited Nankana Sahib and Chak No. 563 GB on April 16, 1989 to ascertain facts and to see the damage done.
The mission comprised Mrs. Alys Faiz, Dr. Mubashar Hassan, Begum Mehnaz Rafi, Ms. Shahtaj Qizalbash, Mr. Mahmood Zaman, Syed Imtiaz Shah, Advocate, and Mr. Azhar jafri. The mission visited the sites, taped evidence and interviewed local authorities.
At Nankana Sahib the first stop was the house of Dr. Abdul Rehman where leaders of the town’s jamat-e-Ahmedia, Malik Saleem Latif, Advocate, President of the jamat in Nankana Sahib, and Mirza Altaf-ur-Rehman Advocate gave a detailed account of the happenings on April 12, 1989.
Malik Altaf Advocate stated that at about 4.40 p.m. on April 11 there was an announcement from a nearby Mosque’s loudspeaker that the Qadianis had burnt Quran Sharif in Chak 563 CB. It was a challenge to the faith of every Muslim who will have to show that he was capable of defending his faith. It was also announced that a strike would be observed and a procession taken out the next day. Malik Altaf said that as they had some indication that trouble was brewing, grave apprehensions arose in their mind. So they immediately tried to contact the Station House Officer of the Police (SHO) and the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Mohammad Aslam Khan Lohdi (DSP), as well as the resident magistrates and the Asstt: Commissioner (A.C.), Ch. Ghulam Sarwar. It was the time of dusk prayers. They were told that the SHO and DSP were out of station. One resident magistrate was on leave and the other resident magistrate and the A.C. had gone for a walk. They made a second contact with the A.C. by waiting three hours outside his house. At that time the A.C. was back home but passed on a message that he would give an audience to them the next morning i.e. on April 12.
Malik Altaf continued that on April 12 the members of the community contacted the A.C. telephonically who assured them that they should not feel apprehensive as the government had made adequate arrangements to ensure their security. The A.C. also said that the situation was not grave. Later they contacted the DSP who extended similar assurances. He also told them that the local police had adequately been reinforced from The District Head-quarters, Sheikhupura. On being so assured the community felt satisfied.
Following Malik Altaf, Mirza Altaf-ur-Rehman and others described in detail the destruction and narrated sequences of arson by violent mobs which went on rampage unhindered and unchecked using abusive language and raising slogans against the Ahmadis.
The members of the Ahmadi community bitterly complained that no effort whatso-ever was made by the police accompanying the mob to offer protection to the Ahmadis. Malik Saleem Latif stated that the violent procession that had formed at Ghalla Mandi, first damaged the place of worship of the Ahmadis and desecrated Quranic inscriptions considered holy by them. His own house, adjacent to the place of worship, was also attacked. He said that the rampage continued for about seven hours during which 25-27 houses and shops and clinics of Ahmadis were set on fire or grossly damaged. The mob also burnt several copies of the Holy Quran in the prayer centre and in the houses of Ahmadis. They burnt expensive libraries at the residence of Mirza Altaf-ur-Rehman and Malik Saleem Latif.
Dr. Abdul Rehman’s clinic and his house were badly damaged. Some of the portions of the house were demolished. His tenant, Mohammad Ayub Qamar, had a similar experience when most of the belongings of his house were reduced to ashes. The mission also visited Chatthhi Gali in old Nankana Sahib, which was the worst affected area. There the houses belonging to Abdul Rehman, Ghulam Mohammad and Mohammad Afzal had been set on fire. The roofs of these houses had caved in. In the street the mission saw the remains of burnt down refrigerators, television sets and other electronic gadgets. Similarly clothes, utensils and toys of children were heaped out in the street and set on fire. Abdul Rehman told members of the mission that he had lost about 400 grams of gold which he had kept at his home as dowry for a daughter who was to be married shortly. He said that the assailants had brought blackish inflammable material with which they used to set on fire the belongings and houses of Ahmadis. He also showed the mission a copy of a burnt Quran and jai-namaz.
In the house of Ghulam Mohammad also dowry for his daughter was reduced to ashes.
The mission members then visited the residence of Mubashar Ahmad, a small Katcha house. In its courtyard lay the ashes of the burnt articles. He had preserved the copy of a burnt Quran and Tafsir Kabir, a book considered holy by him. The adjacent electronic workshop, owned by him, had been looted. Several T.V. sets, including those in the shop for repair, transistor sets and electrical fittings had been removed by the mob. The shelves of the shop were stripped empty and removed.
The mission also saw the newly built house of M. Dawood Ahmad in the Satellite Town. The mob had caused extensive damage to the house. The assailants had taken particular interest in demolishing his expensive bath room. A burqa-clad woman of the house told the mission in tears that seven copies of Quran were burnt by the mob. She showed some of the remains to the members of the mission.
Adjacent to the main bus stand was the house of Mirza Altaf-ur-Rehman advocate. The violent mobs had, in addition to doing other damage, razed to the ground 320 feet-long boundry wall of the house. He told the mission that the mob had spent about four hours in destroying his house, all of it in the presence of police. He had seen the DSP handing over to the mob pillows of his bed room for burning.
The mission’s next stop was at “Kucha Ahmadian”, Qazzafi Street, where the damaged prayer centre is situated. The rooms had been demolished and electronic equipment damaged. A library with several copies of Quran had also been burnt down.
From Nankana Sahib the mission proceeded to village 563 GB, 6-7 miles away. A magistrate along with a posse of police was stationed in the village to guard the houses of Ahmadis. Most of the houses in the village bore inscriptions in bold letters stating that they were Ahl-e-Sunnat, that is to say not Ahmadis. The mission first went to Ahmadia prayer centre whose outer walls had been demolished and the library burnt down. The magistrate on duty, Mr. Tariq, and SHO Masroor Ahmad told the mission that their information was limited to what the villagers had told them. The magistrate said that a man called Nasir had been burning the pages of Holy Quran. On hearing the report the people became violent and the two sects clashed with each other. After the incident the D.C., SSP and the A.D.C. of Distt: Sheikhupura visited the site and took into possession some burnt pieces of Quran, the SHO added. It was this alleged incident which was stated to be the cause of what had followed.
The village is inhabited by 25 Ahmadi families which is about one sixth of the total population. The people appeared tense. Three houses were damaged, including the one where one room was set on fire. In the place of worship, however, the damage was greater. Several copies of Quran were stated to have been burnt and the ashes thrown into the village well to avoid a controversy that the Ahal-e-Sunnat-wul-jamaat had acted in a similar way.
The mission was able to interview the only “eye-witness” to the alleged burning by the Ahmadis, named Ghulam Rasool. He said he saw the Imam of the Ahmadi place of worship, Nasir, burning a heap of papers in which pages of the Holy Quran were also found.
The mission visited the house of Mohammad Hanif, the doors of which had been broken. He looked terrified and burst into tears on meeting the mission members, who happened to be the first group to meet him after the nightmarish experience.
Mohammad Hanif related that he and other Ahmadis of the village had made several requests to Ghulam Rasool not to incite the tense situation to avoid sectarian disturbances, but to no avail. He insisted on communicating the alleged incident to the movement of Khatam-e-Nabuwwat in Nankana Sahib. In the evening there were announcements against Ahmadis from the Ahel-e-Sunnet mosques. Immediately afterwards, a mob gathered there and after damaging the Ahmadi place of worship, attacked the Ahmadi houses. He also heard gun shots. He had thrown his children to the adjacent non-Ahmadi house but the inmates sent the children back out of the fear of the mob.
Nearby was the house of Hanif’s brother, Mohammad Boota. Its outer walls laid demolished and the doors broken. Most of the Ahmadis had since vacated the village and the rest had confined themselves to their houses.
Another house the mission visited in the village (Chak No. 563 GB) was that of Dr. Mohammad Nawaz. His clinic stood demolished and the contents damaged. Some women of the house, profusely in tears, asked the women members of the mission to ensure their safety. Expensive articles had been looted.
About a kilometer away from the village was an orchard belonging to Dr. Nawaz. The assailants had cut down over 50 of its trees of Guava, Kinno and Bamboo that the mission was able to see for itself.
A tubewell in a village nearby belonging to M/s Siddiq & Silan was damaged, its walls demolished and the pump and the motor uprooted.
Back in Nankana Sahib, the mission members called on the Assistant Commissioner, Chaudhry Ghulam Sarwar, the officer incharge of law and order in the Tehsil Nankana Sahib. The officer was frank and forthcoming. He admitted that the district administration did not expect the events that had occurred. It had thought it had sufficient force to deter any trouble mongers. Reinforcement had been called from Sheikhupura. The administration had been in touch with the Tehrik-e-Khatam-e-Nabuwwat. The Tehrik had given categorical assurance to maintain peace and calm.
The administration had had several meetings with the Khatam-e-Nabuwwat leadership. To assuage the Tehrik, the government had added to the FIR the charge of Tauheen-i-Risalat against Ahmadis, though no such offence had taken place. As a further precaution the Nankana Sahib administration had been assured that in case the younger elements took out a procession, the Khatam-e-Nabuwwat leaders would also form part of it in order to prevent untoward incidents.
The A.C. said, “Despite our satisfaction we had taken all the precautionary steps. We had established police pickets, and were also in possession of necessary anti-riot equipment.”
But on the ill-fated day (April 12) the administration found itself paralysed by the violent mob. The administration had the services of two magistrates, while the mob had dispersed into many groups all round the town. The A.C. said that at some places the police was ordered to use tear gas and lathi charge the rioting mob.
“Now after the event, I feel” said the A.C., “as if the attacks were all pre-planned. They (the leadership) failed to fulfil their commitment not to take part in the anti-Ahmadia riots.”
Earlier the mission had taken note of a large poster pasted in prominent places. The poster issued by “Aalmi Majlis Tahaffuz-e-Khatam-e-Nabuwwat” announced the convening of a “Tajdar Khatam-e-Nabuwwat Conference”, on March 29, 1989 at jamia Masjid Ghousia. According to the poster, the conference was to be held under the patronage of Mr. Ghulam Sarwar, the Assistant Commissioner. The names of the Deputy Superintendent of Police and of two magistrates were also mentioned. The poster gave the clear impression *that the civil administration was patronising the local anti-Ahmadia organisations. When confronted the A.C. denied his involvement.
A list of Ahmadi households affected by the disturbance, together with an estimate given to us of the loss suffered in each case, is enclosed as an annexure to this report.
Following a day-long visit to various localities and houses subjected to arson, looting and demolition and after listening to the members of the Ahmadia Community and the Assistant Commissioner, the Mission has come to the following conclusions.
1. The incident of alleged burning of some loose sheets of the Holy Quran in the Ahmadia place of worship in Chak 563 GB needs to be investigated by impartial investigators at a high level.
2. The Ahmadia community was subjected to mob violence and unchecked harassment resulting in widespread losses.
3. The pattern of attacks and arson was identical enough to give rise to the suspicion that violence had been done under centralised direction and planning. The usual practice had been that first there was an attack on houses during which doors were broken down, then the electric supply was cut off and later the belongings of the house were piled up either in the courtyard or in the street to be set on fire. Some devices were used to spread inflammable liquid to help the process.
4. The manner in which the violent mob divided into groups and spread itself all over the town indicates that the Ahmadi houses had been well marked in advance.
5. It is fortunate that no bodily injuries to the members of the community were reported. The purpose of the violence seemed to be to terrorise the community, cause damage to its property and to establish the supermacy of the Khatam-e-Nabuwwat organisation and its leadership in the town in total defiance of the law.
6. Ghulam Rasool of Chak No. 563 GB, who claims to be the eye-witness of the alleged burning of the Holy Quran happens to be the first cousin of one of the victims of this village – Dr. Nawaz. It was reported to the mission that there is litigation between the cousins about a land dispute. Whether the fact of alleged bad relations between Ghulam Rasool and Dr. Nawaz played a part in what took place needs to be looked into.
7. Women of non-Ahmedi houses, at first reluctant in answering questions of the members of the mission, said that they tried their best to protect the Ahmadi neighbours but were helpless in the face of the force and intimidatory mood of the mob.
8. The mission is of the opinion that the administration of Nankana Sahib failed in its duty to protect the Ahmadia community at Nankana Sahib and adjoining villages on April 12. Its sympathy and association with Anti-Ahmadi elements was an encouragement to the mob that perpetrated violence. On the day of the occurrence it did not have enough force at its disposal. The two magistrates on duty on the fateful day failed to protect a single Ahmadi house. Further, the plea that the leaders of the Tehrik did not keep their promise shows not only the failure of local intelligence staff but also a grave gullibility on the part of the local administration. In any case, the police was openly Anti-Ahmadi. Its local chief attended a function two days after the event which almost amounted to celebrating the shameful events of April 12.
9. The Punjab government on its part has failed to institute an enquiry and to take action against the administration and also to pay any compensation to the victims.
10. It is recommended that the Government should immediately compensate in full the persons who have suffered losses in this disturbance. An estimate of the losses suffered by various individuals is given in the annexure to this report.
ANNEXURE TO HRCP REPORT ON ANTI-AHMADI RIOTS AT NANKANA SAHIB APRIL 1989