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Report of The Court of Inquiry
POLICY AND MEASURES
By this time the Central Government had begun feeling concerned about the acute sectarian dissensions and repeated attacks on Ahmadis and their leaders and tenets which were being reported to it. Accordingly the Ministry of the Interior wrote the following letter to the Chief Secretary to Government, Punjab, on 7th September 1951 : —
“Instances have occurred where Muslim members of various sects have indulged in objectionable propaganda against, each other calculated to hurt each other’s feelings and leading, in its extreme cases, to personal violence. An illustration of this type of agitation is the Ahmadi-Ahrar controversy in the Punjab. The Central Government consider that while the legitimate rights of any community or sect to propagate its religious beliefs should not be unduly restricted, and no discrimination should be made between the protagonists of differing views, religious controversies should be confined to reasonable limits and should not be allowed to reach a point where the public peace and tranquillity may be endangered. Militant or aggressive sectarianism should, in the opinion of the Central Government, be suppressed with a heavy hand.
2. I am desired to bring the views of the Central Government in this matter to your notice for such action as may become necessary in your jurisdiction”.
On receipt of this letter, Mr. Anwar Ali, D.I.G., C.I.D., on 1st October 1951, wrote the following note on the sectarian position as it existed in the Province : —
“The Ahrar have exceeded the bounds of decency and have been making sacrilegious attacks against Ahmadis. They have even been responsible for provoking violence against the Ahmadis. At Okara, one Ahmadi was killed as a result of the tension which followed the speeches made by the Ahrar. At a village near Okara, Ahmadi preachers were waylaid and their faces blackened. At Rawalpindi, an Ahmadi was killed, although it could not be clearly established that the murder was communal. At Samundri, an Ahmadi mosque was set fire to and reduced to ashes. About three years ago, a young PAMC doctor, who was an Ahmadi, was attacked at Quetta and stoned to death. For all this violence the responsibility lies on the Ahrar.
2. Shia-Sunni differences have been reported from different parts of the Province. The incident at village Shahpur Kanjra, where a child of 3 and a woman were killed, was, however, the first incident in which Shias became the victims of communal violence.
3. At Gujranwala, sectarian tension existed between the Sunnis and the Wahabis. The difference arose over the number of travih which should be read in the month of Ramazan.
4. The immediate problem is to deal with the Ahrar. A warning has already been issued and I suggest that if this warning is not heeded, firm action should be taken. Government must also do everything to promote amity between Shias and Sunnis”.
Mr. Qurban Ali Khan, I. G. P’s. note, dated 4th October 1951, on this was: —
“On another reference this morning I have suggested to D. I. G., C. I. D., that if the Ahrar, despite repeated warnings, do not desist from making provocative speeches, they should be dealt with under the law by the local authorities. There is not the least doubt that Government must now deal firmly with all persons and parties indulging in sectarian propaganda”.
At this stage, sectarian disputes took a still more ugly turn. Shia-Sunni differences began to appear and develop in several places. There was a dispute about the construction of an Imambara in Krishan Nagar, Lahore, and a serious apprehension of breach of peace over a ta’zia procession was reported from Bhakkar. In Shahpur Kanjra, about seven miles from Lahore, there was Shia-Sunni riot in which two Shias were killed, one of them being a woman, and the other a child of three. When these disputes came to the notice of Government, S. Ahmad Ali, the Home Secretary, wrote the following note on 29th September 1951 :—
“The policy of the present Government has been made known, but it is now for the leaders of public opinion to take effective steps to check religious fanaticism of this sort. We have far more important things at our hands and certainly will not allow people to ruin themselves in religious squabbles. What is happening now, seems almost a writing on the wall and God help us if we do not stop these ignorant people from cutting each other’s throat and thus bringing comfort and cheer to our enemies”.
On reviewing the whole situation, the Chief Secretary on 3rd November 1951 wrote the following D. O. No. 7505-HG-51/76135 to all the Deputy Commissioners in the Punjab :—
“I am desired to say that various instances have come to the notice of Government where Muslim members of various sects have indulged in objectionable propaganda against each other calculated to hurt each other’s feelings and leading, not unoften, to personal violence. Glaring illustrations of this are found in the Shia-Sunni differences and the Ahmadi-Ahrar controversy. It has also been alleged that at times some local officers have identified themselves in these schisms. Those differences amongst various sects are a source of unrest in the Province and cause grave concern to the administration. Government consider that while the legitimate rights of any community or sect to practice its religious beliefs should not be unduly restricted and no discrimination should be made between the protagonists of different views, religious controversies should be confined to reasonable limits and should not be allowed to reach a point where the public peace and tranquillity is likely to be endangered. Government, therefore, direct that militant or aggressive sectarianism should always be suppressed firmly.
”2. Government have decided that—
local officers must take strong action whenever there is likelihood of trouble on account of communal provocative speeches or conduct leading to communal tension. For this purpose they should invoke the provisions of prohibitory orders as laid down in the criminal law.
In case it is found that any local officers are involved in the affair, drastic steps should be taken against them if the inquiry reveals that they had participated with any party in instigating the trouble.
District Officers should enlist the support and co-operation of the local public organisations to propagate against fanaticism and to preach religious tolerance as enjoined by Islam”.
Within a fortnight of the date of this letter, the Superintendent of Police, Lyallpur, by his wireless message dated 18th November 1951, reported that a Seerat-un-Nabi meeting held by the Ahmadis in Lyallpur was broken up by the Ahrar, with the result that the clash between the two parties had resulted in injuries to several men on either side.