Mob tries to burn houses of Ahmadis in Layyah

Shame on extremist Muslims who cannot respect the faith and practices of their fellow Pakistanis.


Mob tries to burn houses of Ahmadis in Layyah

* HRCP alarmed over four children’s detention on blasphemy charges
* FIR says local MNA’s uncle ‘probed’ the incident at his outhouse

By Abdul Manan

LAHORE: A mob – led reportedly by members of banned religious organisations – tried to set ablaze houses of Ahmadis in Layyah on Thursday, a day after four children belonging to the minority community were detained on charges of blasphemy, police and residents told Daily Times.

Twenty policemen had been deployed to the village, a police official said.

Police had registered a case (number 46/9) in the Kot Sultan police station against Tahir Imran (16), Tahir Mahmood (14), Naseer Ahmad (14), Muhammad Irfan (14), and Mubashar Ahmad (45) under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The Ahmadiyya community has denied the charge, the first ever against children since the Section 295-C was introduced in 1986.

Asma Jahangir, the chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), said that it was heinous to use the law against children. The HRCP was finding facts about the incident, she said, and would soon send a team to Layyah.

Religious scholar Javed Ghamidi said the children were safer in police custody.

The children belong to Chak 172/TDA, a village about 25 kilometres from Kot Sultan. Last week, the locals had stopped the Ahmadi children from praying in the central Gulzar-e-Madina mosque, Kot Sultan Station House Officer (SHO) Rauf Khalid told Daily Times.

But they continued to use the latrines, where they have been accused of writing blasphemous material, according to the first information report (FIR).

Noor Elahi Kulachi – a retired schoolteacher, and, as the SHO confirmed, a member of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba – complained to Iqbal Hussain Shah, the uncle of the local National Assembly member Saqlain Shah. According to the FIR, Iqbal Hussain called the SHO and the people who had seen the writings to his outhouse, where they “probed the incident” to find the Ahmadi children guilty.

But the local leader of the Ahmadiyya community alleged that Kulachi – who was also a member of Jamaatud Dawa – had pressured Iqbal Hussain to direct the police to register the case, and the latter complied because of the Jamaatud Dawa votebank in the constituency.

Saqlain Shah, an MNA from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, denied his uncle had pressured police. But he said representatives of the Ahmadiyya community should have visited his uncle’s residence for the matter to be resolved in line with local traditions, instead of denying charges.

He also said that Ahmadis had first lodged cases against local Muslims (for violating the Loudspeakers Act and under the Maintenance of Public Order) after being disallowed to hold a religious meeting, and should now “face the truth”. He said he would visit the village on Saturday, and that his uncle was trying to pacify the villagers.

The SHO said he had registered the case after consulting the district police officer and a deputy inspector general of police. The inspector general of police had also been informed, he added. (Daily Times)

2 responses to “Mob tries to burn houses of Ahmadis in Layyah”

  1. Some details have emerged as to the background of this incident;

    A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

    PAKISTAN: Four children and one man have been arbitrarily arrested and charged with blasphemy at the request of Muslim radicals

    Five persons belonging to the Ahmadi sect of Islam, four of them children, have been arrested for desecrating the name of the last prophet of Islam (peace be upon him), and charged under a law that can only be met with the death penalty.

    According to our reports, the boys are students from grades nine and ten of the Superior Academy, Chak no. 172, TDA in Layyah district. They are Muhammad Irfan (14), son of Muhammad Mukhtar, Tahir Imran (16), son of Abdul Ghaffar, Tahir Mehmood (14), son of Muhammad Aslam and Naseer Ahmed (14), son of Nasrullah. A Mr Mubashar Ahmed, 45 has also been arrested.

    The five were taken from their houses on the night of January 28, 2009 and taken into custody. Raiding police officials told their families that they would just be detained for 24 hours to appease a number of Muslim fundamentalists, who had recently renewed the long-waged ideological assault on members of the Ahmadi sect, a minority sect of Islam .

    However after four hours in custody, charges were filed against all five under section 295-C, for desecrating the name of the last prophet. After contacting Dr Muhammad Azam, the district police officer (DPO) of Layyah, family members were told that the police were under pressure from fundamentalists to act against the children. If he did not arrest them, Azam said, the group had threatened to close down the whole city and attack the houses of Ahmedi sect members. Worried about civilian deaths, the officer arrested the children.

    Inspector Khalid Rauf, station head officer (SHO) of Kot Sultan police satation, Layyah district, Punjab province, told the AHRC that police have still not initiated the investigation, but that the gravity of the case against Islam justified arresting the children first. He said the police do not know of any substantial evidence that links the four students with the crime.

    Most bemusing, is the fact that the teenagers that were arrested are not students of the Gulzare Madina Mosque, where the graffiti was found, and neither they or Mubashar live anywhere near it. The boys are students of a private English medium school.

    According to an Ahmadi spokesperson, a number of attempted assaults and attacks have taken place against sect members in the area, during the last week.

    The police have not made any investigation into the threats sent in, to cause harm to Layyah civilians. Neither have they made investigations into the five detainees¡¦ guilt. According to an amendment made by parliament in 2004 in section 295-C of the constitution, police officials are obligated to thoroughly investigate accusations of blasphemy before presenting criminal charges. The aim of this amendment was to reduce the scope of the blasphemy laws, which are still widely and frequently abused, and met with the death penalty.

    At this juncture the AHRC would like to question who Pakistan¡¦s police are meant to serve: a few civilian religious groups with little regard for the law, and an agenda of violent persecution? Or do they serve the rule of law and the people of Pakistan? Their actions and admissions in this case point to the former. That children can now be made scapegoats by the police, and high ranking police officers themselves can played with like puppets, is a disgrace to the nation.

    The Punjab government has lately claimed to be liberal and progressive. Yet they show little control over the province¡¦s radical religious groups, which flout the law and hold Pakistan society hostage in the name of Islam. When children can be arrested under laws that carry only the death penalty, with no evidence given and no investigation done, there can be no doubt that the systems of this province have broken down.

    The AHRC urges the government of President Asif Zardari to immediately release the illegally detained prisoners. Instead they should turn their attention to the dependence of Punjab Police on fundamentalist Islamic groups and the implementation of the rule of law in the province, including the amendment in the blasphemy law made by parliament.

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    About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.