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Daska’s Ahmadis unable to return home
* No case registered against vandals that burnt houses and shops
By Ali Waqar
LAHORE: A dozen Ahmadi families forced to flee their village after it was vandalised by a mob protesting the alleged desecration of the Quran some two weeks ago, are not being allowed to return.
The police had promised to provide security for the Ahmadi families, but have indirectly told them not to return to Jhando Sahi village in Daska tehsil, a Human Rights Commission of Pakistan team, which included this scribe, found on a fact-finding mission to the area on July 1.
A mob attacked the Ahmadi locality in Jhando Sahi village on the afternoon of June 24 and injured two people, burned down two shops, a few houses, and the worship place of the Ahmadis. The mob’s anger stemmed from allegations that a couple of Ahmadi youths had burned copies of the Quran. District police arrested seven Ahmadis, and registered a case against them for desecration of the Quran. Three accused were later released, two - Zaheer and Shakeel – were sent to jail, and two - Waqar and Nawaz - are still in police custody.
Of the 13 Ahmadi families in the village, 12 fled to Rabwah in fear for their lives. They said they wanted the police to register a case of vandalism against the Sunni Muslims that burnt down their shops and houses, but they were not allowed to visit the area. Local police officials said that under orders from the district police officer, no Ahmadi was allowed to visit the village without prior permission.
The Ahmadi representatives have written to federal and provincial government authorities demanding a judicial probe, a vandalism case and security for the affected Ahmadis, but have received no response.
They said that the furore on June 24 was triggered after a woman saw two boys burning old newspapers and pages of the Quran and then digging up a hole to bury the remains in. The woman was the only witness, but the FIR mentions three other names - Rana Bashir Ahmed, Inayat Qadri and Muhammad Amjad Dar.
A Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya spokesman said that only old Jamaat magazines and old papers were burnt. Village locals, including Sunni children, said that on the afternoon of June 24, they heard announcements on loudspeakers warning that whoever gave shelter to Ahmadis in their house would be attacked.
The main Muslim organisation active in the area is the Sunni Tehrik. Locals said that a hardline Sunni cleric arrived from Multan a few months ago and had been trying to drum up anti-Ahmadi sentiments.
Inspector Sanaullah Dhillon, the SHO concerned, told the HRCP team that he would not lodge a counter FIR for vandalism himself, but would wait for the Ahmadis to come to him to report the incident. He pledged full security to the Ahedis if they wanted to return, but when a crowd started gathering around having heard of the visit by the HRCP team, suggested the team leave immediately. “Unfortunately, traditional laws are more powerful in this country,” he said.