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Rabwah; July, 2004: A mountain of mischief was built on a molehill, and Ahmadis in this town were threatened with great risk to their security and human rights. The threat is not over yet. These events also show how thin and fragile is the veneer of religious tolerance and the proclaimed Enlightened Moderation on the ground.
Mullahs are, of course, in the forefront in fomenting agitation. They indulge in outright falsehood, make ridiculous demands, hurl the most provocative threats and make moves that pose immediate threat to law and order. Trouble is avoided only by utmost restraint of Ahmadis and a yielding attitude of the authorities.
Briefly, the Police Post, Rabwah was located at a site loaned by the Ahmadiyya Community to the police more than quarter of a century ago. The post was recently shifted to another location by mutual consent, and the premises were handed over back to Ahmadis. Some years ago, the police unauthorizedly constructed, first a platform, then a small one-room mosque in the courtyard, without consent of the owners. The mosque is still intact. Mischief monger mullahs fabricated the story of destruction of the mosque, and took up the issue to create serious law and order situation in the country. Subsequently, they conceded that the mosque was only partially damaged (the WCs and water taps), but they continue to insist that, as a mosque is a house of Allah, it remains a mosque for ever and its status cannot be tampered with or changed under any circumstance a debatable opinion. They anyhow demand that the mosque (and also the Police Post) be handed over to Muslims for perpetual possession, access and worship; otherwise, they threaten to unleash a violent countrywide movement against Ahmadis. For details please see Mullas attempt to create Law & Order situation at Rabwah and Lack of Legal and Religious Justification for the alleged Perpetual Sanctity of the mosque built Illegally at the Premises of the old Police Post at Rabwah (Chenab Nagar).
The mosque in question is intact. The police seriously violated Ahmadis legal right by demolishing a wall that Ahmadis built on their own property, and showed it to the mullas as their compliance with his demand. After the false reporting of the mullahs and the Urdu press about the destruction of the mosque had been exposed to everybody, the mullah now says that the toilets and water taps have been rendered Shaheed (martyrs). This is a new dimension of Shahadat a first ever. The toilets and water taps were in normal use by the policemen at the Post, and these were built for the policemen years before the mosque was built. The mullah is agitating his flock as if these were specifically a part of the mosque.
The mullah gave the battle-cry and called the Muslims to converge on Chenab Nagar (Rabwah) on Friday, 23 July. He used loudspeakers on mosques and issued posters for the call. The administration made no move to deter him from this agitation that could turn violent. As a result, hundreds of them armed with staffs etc came over. The press reported their number in thousands. According to the daily Nawa-i-Waqt of July 24:
The situation was indeed very tense on that Friday.
The mullah used all means at his disposal to precipitate an ugly situation. He continued to insist on the lie that the mosque had been rendered Shaheed. The Nawa-i-Waqt of July 24, quoted a group of Ulema of Pasroor in a joint statement: the mosque at Chenab Nagar has been rendered Shaheed in a great conspiracy. The same daily of July 26 quoted the mullahs from Lahore as: The incident at Chenab Nagar can precipitate alarming communal tension. It also reported that the police had assured the Ulama that the wall obstructing the path to the mosque will be removed, so the police went along with the Ulama and destroyed the wall and cleared the way.
The mullah issued dangerous threats. A few of these are quoted from the press:
Note: The mullah was threatening an agitation in Which widespread destruction of Ahmadis properties was undertaken and numerous Ahmadis were murdered in country-wide riots.
It is relevant to mention here that in this agitation, Ahrari mullahs are playing a big role. They are the descendants of the 1953 Ahrar about whom the famous Munir Report of Punjab Disturbances had the following to place on record: The conduct of Ahrar calls for the strongest comment and is especially reprehensible. We can use no milder word - for the reason that they debased a religious issue by pressing it into service for a temporal purpose and exploited religious susceptibilities and sentiments of the people for their personal ends. (p.257) Jamaat Islami (a part of the MMA) is playing a coordinating role in this agitation. Hafiz Idrees, the Deputy Amir of JI is quoted by the Daily DAWN of July 20 as: He told a delegation of Majlis Ahrar Islam that the Jamaat would support every effort to collect scholars of all schools of thought on a single platform on the subject.
The mullah is availing of the occasion to make vile demands and also meet some of his long-term objectives. He is demanding that the police post must be moved from its new location to the old. (The Daily Jang; July 21, 2004) Next time, the mullah will perhaps want to decide where to locate a new cantonment. In an interview to the PTV, the local DSP stated that the mosque is still intact. The mullah has taken ill to this exposure of truth and has demanded that, a criminal case be registered against him (the DSP) under anti-terrorism law, and he ought to be fired from the (police) service. (The Daily Express, Faisalabad; July 24, 2004) Mullah Ilyas Chinioti demanded: Qadianis should be removed from key posts; their centers should be taken over by the Auqaf Department; those involved in defiling the mosque should be booked under the Anti-terrorism Act. (The Daily Pakistan, July 24, 2004) Mullah Abu Tariq the brother of Maulana Azam Tariq of the SSP (banned for being a terrorist organization stated: If the post could not be returned, the land should be handed over to Muslims to set up a Madrassah (The Daily News; July 24, 2004). Indeed, sky is the limit of insatiable demands of these mullahs. They would not make such demands unless they knew that the government would attend to them sympathetically.
The Urdu press generally and even the daily Nation of the house of Nawa-i-Waqt continue to play a very negative and despicable role in the whole affair. They give undue coverage and prominence to what the mullah says. The press does not verify the statements of clerics even if these are false and loaded with potential violence. A few samples are reproduced below:
Last but not least, a mention must be made of the visit of a high official to Rabwah on Friday, July 23, 2004. Ahmadis were hoping that the authorities at the Lahore Darbar will send someone to the town who will look at the issue in a fair and just manner and talk to both the parties. But lo and behold; who comes none other than Maulana Tahir Mahmud Ashrafi, Advisor on Religious Affairs to the Governor of the Punjab. He came to Rabwah, remained huddled up with mullahs, and did not talk to any Ahmadi. He went much further and issued more harmful statements than his fiery co-religionists. For example:
Note: This would be a serious escalation, as never before an Imam and a Muezzin resided at this mosque.
Note: This was a wanton break in the peace and status-quo imposed and maintained by the police for the past one week, that the Advisor fatuously undertook.
Thus, this representative and Advisor of the provincial government spent his day in Rabwah. Chiniot and Faisalabad and went back without having a single word with an Ahmadi. This is his understanding of the great strategy of Enlightened Moderation propounded by the President of Pakistan. With Advisors like Ashrafi, the Governor of Punjab needs no enemies.
On the day of Maulvi Ashrafis visit to Rabwah, someone from the mob saw an Ahmadi with a video camera. At this, an angry gang stormed towards the house of the photography team and threatened to set it on fire. The police intervened, raided the place itself and took the photography team in custody. The SHO struck the expensive camera against the floor and broke it. Subsequently they drove off with the detainees and set them free later on. On the way, the policemen were talking: We have orders not to allow photography or video-making, as Ahmadis send these to Embassies. Would it not be better and more correct to desist from behavior and conduct that are not fit to be recorded?
It is relevant to mention here that there are numerous decisions of various High Courts, based on law and Shariah, that a mosque cannot be built upon land owned by someone else. Trespassing is forbidden under law, and usurpation is a serious crime and sin. In PLD 1973 Lahore 500, the High Court Bench dismissed the Appeal of Anjuman Araian who claimed that, as it had constructed a mosque and a madrassah on a plot of land. it had acquired an interest in it; the land did not belong to the Anjuman. More recently in 2002, Honorable Sindh High Court, in case 2003 CLC 607, dismissed the application of PECHS for claim on the platform constructed by it for the purpose of Namaz (prayers) for its employees and members; the location belonged to Messers Awami Construction Co (the Defendants). The Judge, while giving his verdict quoted from the judgment of Lahore High Court in Sh. Nanki Devi v. Habib Ullah and others, AIR 1936 Lah. 876: Namaz can be offered at any place but that place cannot be treated as Masjid unless the owner dedicates the land or the land has been purchased from the owner. Therefore, applicant cannot claim on their own right the portion or any part of the platform. Thus the mullah and the officials who are sympathetic to him are standing on legs of clay. The mullah, however, seems not to care, as he is only interested in mischief and violence. According to a press report, Mullah Zahid Mahmud Qasmi (of JUI-MMA) called a meeting at Faisalabad on August 6 to coordinate further action. Authorities are acting timid. According to the Daily Awaz, Lahore of August 7, 2004: the Assistant Superintendent Police Chiniot assured the Ulama that the Muslim mosque Chenab Nagar and its surrounding entire area will remain in possession of the Police. The construction of the mosque and its auxiliaries like bathrooms, ablution facilities and the residence of the (Officer) Incharge Police Post will commence within two days. After that, the worshippers will be able to freely offer their prayers over there, so said Mr Humayun Sindhu, the ASP Chiniot. The Daily Express, Faisalabad of the same date, August 7, reported the response of the Ulama of the Alami Majlis Tahffuz Khatame Nabuwwat as: ASPs offer is rejected. The Police Post and the mosque must be re-established. If not the police post, construct there the DSPs office. Shakespeare, the English poet reputed to have the most comprehensive soul, wrote for such occasions: O judgment Thou art fled to brutish beasts, and men have lost their reason. (Julius Caesar, III)
In the meantime, Ahmadis can only wait, see - and pray.
Whither ENLIGHTENED MODERATION? one may ask.
Chak Sikandar, District Gujrat; July 22, 2004: The village of Chak Sikandar has been a hot-bed of anti-Ahmadiyya activities since long, and Ahmadis have suffered there greatly in many ways. On July 22, non-Ahmadis organized a conference in the village, where the speakers made highly provocative speeches. The administration should not have allowed it. After the conference ended, the participants attacked an Ahmadi youth, Ghulam Ahmad Tahir who works in a store close to the opponents mosque. He had to flee to save himself. Later the crowd got him arrested by reporting to the police. They accused him of injuring one of them with a stone and firing a pistol shot. When Ahmadis approached the police, they told them to wait till morning when the medical report would be available. However, soon afterwards, the police registered a case against the young man under PPC 324.
The next-day, in another incident, the opposition detained two Ahmadis of Chak Sikandar, Mr Abdul Qayyum and Mr Tariq Mahmud and held them for many hours. They released them after a report was made to the police, who took them away to the police station. The police released them at 9.00 p.m. on condition that representatives of both the communities report to the police station at 10 a.m. The next day 30 Ahmadis reported to the police as arranged, but not even one of the non-Ahmadis arrived. Later on, the police heard both the parties and obtained lists of 20 persons from each community under the warning of PPC 107/105.
The permissive and sympathetic attitude of the police towards Ahmadi-bashers is visibly partial. Ahmadis of Chak Sikandar continue to suffer mainly because the administration treats Ahmadis as less then equal citizens of the state.
Kariala, District Hafizabad: Malik Feeroz ud Din, father of Malik Ejaz Ahmad president of the local Ahmadiyya community, died on July 22, 2003. He was buried in privately owned land of his nephew, Mr Haroon Ahmad. The opponent party objected to the burial on flimsy ground and approached the police and then the court. Finally the Session Judge gave the verdict that the grave of the Ahmadi is not located in the Muslims graveyard but in the private land of Haroon Ahmad while the Muslim grave yard is elsewhere; Muslims have unauthorizedly built graves at the present site which belongs in fact to the provincial government.
After this final decision by a senior court, the opposition dared to dig up the dead body at night and decamped with it. Ahmadis reported the matter to the police. They charged 18 individuals under PPC 297/201. However they were bailed out, and the police have declared them not-involved.
The dead body has not been recovered by the police. The Ahmadiyya community is greatly distressed.
Bhadal: Hate-promoting anti-Ahmadiyya stickers are in wide circulation in the area. These have been affixed on buildings, houses, poles etc. Translation of some of these is given below:
The stickers are issued by: the Lions of Islam, Naqsh Lasani Nagar, Gamtala Rd. Shakar Garh, Narowal.
District Jhelum: A very hurtful, hateful and provocative anti-Ahmadiyya pamphlet is in circulation in District Jhelum. Its contents are not fit for reproduction here. The writer is self-styled Dog of Medina (sage Madina), Sajid Hussain.