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Sialkot; October 2000: A group of anti-Ahmadi extremists sprayed bullets with automatic weapons on Ahmadi worshippers at their local mosque in Ghatialian (Khurd), District Sialkot. As a result, five Ahmadis died and six injured.
It is learnt that a car was noticed to arrive Ghatialian in the early hours of the morning on October 30, while it was still dark. Ahmadi worshippers came to the mosque for their morning prayers. After then service, at about 6 A.M. when the first worshipper came out of the building, he was hit by a masked man at the door who pushed him back into the prayer hall. Then two attackers rushed inside and opened up bursts from a rapid-fire weapon on Ahmadis present there. In all, eleven victims were hit. Two of them, Mr. Iftikhar and Mr. Shehzad, died on the spot.
The visitors had parked their car approximately one hundred yards away from the mosque, and two of their colleagues had remained in the car, ready for escape. The attackers returned to the car, and they sped away from the scene of their crime. No arrest has yet been made till the time of rendering of this report, ten days later.
The mosque presented a bloody sight after the attack. There was blood all over. Prayer mats got soaked with blood. There was blood in the courtyard as well, as the injured were moved out. The locals hurriedly arranged some transport to take the injured to Narowal. While on the way Mr. Ataulla expired. As medical facilities were inadequate at Narowal, the injured were advised to be shifted to Lahore. While in transit, Mr. Abbas and Mr. Ghulam Muhammad also succumbed to their injuries thus bringing the total of dead to five. That left behind six injured. If they live, it is not due to any lack of efforts by the fundamentalists. They intended to kill them all. Authorities handed over dead bodies to the relatives by the end of the day after necessary formalities.
It is learn that the village recently was calm, despite the communal unrest of last year. However, District Sialkot had generally become a hot bed of anti-Ahmadiyya activities for months. Religious extremists raised claim to a number of Ahmadiyya mosques. They damaged one at Koorakot. Another mosque at Merajke was handed over to them by authorities. Reconstruction of Ahmadiyya mosque at Sialkot Cantt was ordered to be stayed. Fundamentalists also implicated many Ahmadis in criminal cases under religious laws. In this they received ready help from authorities. Some details are given at Annex.
During last six years, criminal cases against 21 Ahmadis were registered in the district under religious laws. This year, criminal cases, based on religion, were registered against 23 Ahmadis. Although Ahmadis are accused of preaching, PPC 295A is applied so as to haul them to Anti-Terrorism Special Courts. Dr. Abdul Ghani and Mr. Munir Ahmad have not been granted bail, and are in prison for over one year under such fabrication. Messers Abdul Jabbar, Mian Fazil and Asad Zahur are also behind bars on religious charges.
Social environment is continuously polluted and poisoned by Mullas who enjoy unrestrained freedom in fanning the fires of communal hatred. On the day of the incident, Maulvi Azam Tariq, Patron of the Sipah Sahaba, while addressing a conference in Chak 20 Ghugh stated: No Qadiani will be spared, if the violence erupts again (The Daily Jang, Lahore; 1 November 2000). Also on 30th October, mullas of Khatame Nabuwwat organization had planned an open-air conference near Ghatialian. The vernacular press provides the mulla ample undeserved coverage in its newspapers. Politicians like Kalsum Nawaz also want to cash the religious cheque and agitate the public mind Ahmadiyya issue. Members of the judiciary, like Justices Akhtar and Mughal, unashamedly issue statements that are license to murder. The government has adopted the policy of appeasement of the Mulla, and the bureaucracy is aware of it. As a result, no preventive effort is made. At Ghatialian, the victims’ families believe that the bloodbath was the work of religious extremists. In all probability, they are right. Authorities, however, cannot escape their responsibility; they have failed to take obvious remedial measures.
The statement of the police spokesman that this incident could be the result of an earlier incident in which a non-Ahmadi was killed by an Ahmadi was highly misleading. In fact, no Ahmadi was ever charged by the police of his murder.
Qasur; October 12, 2000: A local magistrate awarded imprisonment terms of one year each to three Ahmadis in two religious cases and also fined them Rs. 5000 each on 11 October 2000.
The first case was going on since 1987 against Sh. Muhammad Yusuf. He was accused of displaying Quranic verses at his shop and the Kalima (Muslim Creed) at his door.
Messers Mohammad Hussain and Muhammad Sadiq, father and son, were co-accused in the second case. They were accused of displaying the Kalima (Islamic Creed) on their house.
Ilahabad, Distt: Rajanpur; October 13, 2000: The police registered a case under PPC 295B, 341 & 506 at police station Muhammad Pur against Mr. Nasir Ahmad, Ahmadi, on a false accusation of defiling the Holy Quran.
The facts of the case show the nature of such cases. The accuser visited the accused and indulged in a hot argument. When the accused re-entered the house, the accuser bolted the house from outside. A passer-by opened the door. When Mr. Nasir came out, the accuser hit him on the head with a brick. Nasir was injured. In self-defense, he pushed the attacker who fell in the nearby drain. Subsequently, Mullas raised hue and cry that the accuser carried a Quran in his pocket and the accused had thus defiled the holy book.
Although the village folk refused to support the accuser, mullas persisted in their efforts to implicate the Ahmadi. Reportedly, the Army authorities got involved as well. They decided to support the Mulla.
The accused was arrested.
The judiciary plays to the gallery. Lower courts deny bails to Ahmadis. For instance:
In the recent past, some column writers attributed to Mr. Ghazi, the Federal Minister of Religious Affairs statement to the effect that the decision to declare Ahmadis a Minority was an emotional one, and that the charge of infidelity against Ahmadis was not well-founded. Mr. Ghazi refused to own up the alleged statements and wrote an article in the Daily Pakistan of … October wherein inter alia, he stated the following:
If promotion of religious tolerance is a need of the Pakistan society, the nomination of Mr. Ghazi to the post of Minister of Religious Affairs is indeed questionable.
Rabwah; August 31, 2000: Housing and Physical Planning Department Jhang decided to sell by auction a large number of residential plots in Muslim Colony area of Rabwah. It advertised the Auction in the daily Jang of August 31, 2000. In the ad, the Department unashamedly published the following Note:
Begum Kalsum Nawaz is leaving no stone unturned to secure the release of her husband. While none would mind any fair efforts on her part, but when she banks upon falsehood, slander, religious fanaticism and Ahmadi-bashing, she only betrays her desperation and character. According to the daily Pakistan of 16 October, 2000, the Begum Sahiba congratulated her party workers on the success of the Black Day observed on October 12, 2000, and stated the following, inter alia:
Rabwah: 13 October 2000: A two day Khatame Nabuwwat Conference was held at Rabwah with the permission of the government. The speakers made provocative speeches as usual. The college and school boys took out a procession on the College Road and indulged in stone throwing. An Ahmadi Muhammad Ahmad’s house was subjected to stone throwing. The police accompanied the procession.
It is noteworthy that the government permitted the Jamaat Islami to hold a large conference at Qurtaba City. It permitted the Tablighi Jamaat to hold its annual conference at Raiwind. Reportedly, hundreds of thousands participated. Anti-Ahmadiyya conferences are routinely permitted at Rabwah. However, the traditional and purely religious Ahmadiyya Annual Conference remains forbidden. Where is the much-trumpeted equal citizenship for all sections of society? An obvious hoax and empty claim.
A Fatwa, apart from being a religious edict, also betrays the attitude and the state of mind of the Mufti and his types. Recently a mulla, Muhammad Ibrahim Sarhindi of Umarkot issued a Fatwa against Ahmadis, dated 19 Jamadi-us-Sani 1421 (Islamic Calendar). Some excerpts:
Mosques remain under constant attack of mullas and their followers. In this, they often get support from authorities. For instance:
Dastgir, Karachi: A Sub-Divisional Magistrate and a Deputy Superintendent Police accompanied by a police party arrived at the Ahmadiyya Mosque. They took possession of the Kalima (Islamic creed) board and carried it away. Obviously they acted in response to some mulla’s demand. Such behaviour of authorities, in the cosmopolitan city like Karachi reflects very poorly on the attitude of the city administration and the provincial government.
District Noshero Feroz (Sind): The village, Goth Imam Bux Alavi has its Ahmadiyya mosque. The mullas are agitating against the niche in the mosque, even though it is not visible from outside. Mullas have also demanded removal of the Holy Quran from the mosque. This has generated a great deal of tension in the village life.
The mulla is working full time to maintain a climate of agitation all over Pakistan. It keeps him in business of power politics. Some locations are cited below.
Islamabad: The Khatame Nabuwwat Education Society has distributed pamphlets in large numbers to generate an Anti-Ahmadiyya hatred among masses. They have compiled a list of out-of-context short excerpts from the writings of the Founder of Ahmadiyyat. They have also published corrupted photographs of Ahmadiyya mosques to misguide the general public about Ahmadiyya articles of faith.
Haripur (NWFP): An anti-Ahmadi campaign has been going on in the local press. Some headlines:
The Daily Mahasib. September 25 2000
The Daily Mahasib. September 25, 2000
Hafizabad (Punjab): An outsider Mulla was invited here on 29 September for the Friday congregation. In his sermon, he delivered a great deal of slander and calumny against the holy Founder of Ahmadiyya Community. He told them that a Muslim who does not consider Ahmadis as infidels, is himself an infidel. He urged them to implement a complete social boycott against Ahmadis. Leaflets were also distributed.
Mangat Unche, District Hafizabad: The Imam of the local mosque delivered a hateful sermon against Ahmadis. Some religious activists approached the authorities to take action against Ahmadis on the issue of graveyard, the call to prayers and the posting of Ahmadi teacher etc. Accordingly the police and the administration intervened. This disturbed the community life of the village and caused unnecessary tension.
Mirpur Khas (Sind): Mullas have stepped up their anti-Ahmadiyya campaign. People are instigated to implement social boycott against Ahmadis. A building contractor who undertook to build an Ahmadi’s house was told by extremists to stop construction.
District Muzzafargarh: Mr. Mushtaq Ahmad, Ahmadi, is a primary school teacher at Jatoi. Activists of Sipah Sahaba and Khatame Nabuwwat Organization have turned against him. He is facing a general boycott. His children are not allowed to drink water from outside. The education department held an inquiry against him. He was transferred to another village. When he arrived there, the opponents had organized a demonstration to confront him. He was not allowed to join the school. He is being posted to still another village.
In the meantime, a confidant has intimated to Ahmadis that the mullas are planning to murder him. Mr. Mushtaq Ahmad is worried about his safety.
The blood-letting incidents like the one at Ghatialian do not happen out of the blue. A chain of incidents, attitudes, developments, action and omissions cause them to materialize. The country’s environment of intolerance, neglect of human rights of the weak, growth of the so-called Jihadi cult and the government’s refusal to take on the challenge of fundamentalists provide fertile breeding ground for religious terrorism. Ahmadis have lived with this situation for quarter of a century and their policy of self constraint and refusal to respond violence with violence has, to some extent, limited the quantum of bloodshed. However, the mulla refuses to let peace prevail and makes all efforts, not discreetly either, to keep the pot of religious strife boiling. He adopts a well-considered aggressive policy, makes detailed plans accordingly and follows them up methodically to get the desired results. For example, prior to the Ghatialian assault, mullas mounted a relentless overt campaigns spread over months in District Sialkot to agitate the masses against Ahmadis. In their campaign, they demanded and often got support from authorities who unwittingly thought that this was the best way to circumvent the potential mischief of the mulla. They are wrong and short sighted. It would be useful and of some interest to briefly mention here anti-Ahmadiyya developments in District Sialkot. The authorities were fully aware of all the following events all along.
Registration of criminal cases on religious grounds generates a great deal of tension, as these result in years of prosecution in courts and the accused may end up in prison for long periods. Mullas press upon the authorities to proceed against Ahmadis, and they often get ready cooperation from officials. It wrecks the peace of communities and generates mutual strife and ill-will. All this is attributed to vicious laws that violate human rights of Ahmadis.
The Mulla is fully conscious that a sure and effective way to persecute Ahmadis is through some sort of attacks on their mosques. Anyone would get seriously disturbed if one’s place of worship is threatened. Ahmadis are no exception. In District Sialkot, mullas mounted persistent and multifarious attacks on Ahmadiyya mosques.
These incidents have caused great concern to Ahmadis and disturbed their peace. Such actions only strengthen their feeling that they are maltreated by the state and that their basic human rights are grossly violated.
Registration of criminal cases on religious grounds often result in arrest. When authorities wrongfully charge Ahmadis under PPC 295A, the anti-terrorist courts refuse to grant the bail. Bails are also often denied to Ahmadis charged under anti-Ahmadiyya laws. In district Sialkot, following Ahmadis remain under detention although courts have not yet declared them ‘guilty’:
None of these gentlemen has any criminal record. Their only fault is their faith.
Mullas remain busy in fanning the fire of hatred all the time. They do so through their sermons at mosques, fiery speeches in open-air conferences and distribution of various leaflets and folders. Their printing presses churn out profusely anti-Ahmadiyya hate literature, and they have adequate staff to distribute the same. Some of the titles translated into English from Urdu are mentioned below: -
More than thirty such highly provocative and inciting pamphlets came to our notice during August and September alone. They openly incite the common Muslim to violence against Ahmadis. Authorities know about them but they do not confiscate or proscribe them. Authorities have never admonished the authors of this literature that promotes nothing but hatred and violence.
The incident at Ghatialian was not a big surprise to any keen observer of the past events in district Sialkot. If the government does not respond actively to the challenge of religious terrorism now, there would be more of the same. And the violence may not remain restricted to Ahmadis only — there are other vulnerable sections in Pakistani society as well.