The municipal administration has razed to the ground an under-construction Ahmadi place of worship in Jannat Wala, a village on the outskirts of Lodhran, after clerics staged protests.
Construction was suspended after labourers working at the site received death threats and some were forced to flee the village to save their lives. Muslim clerics pressurised the district government to take action when they came to know about the new place of worship. They organised processions against the government in surrounding villages and protested against what they deemed to be its ‘unwillingness to check the propagation of the Ahmadi religion.’
The government, however, denies that the destruction had anything to do with anti-Ahmadi sentiment in the community. The Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA) razed the building on the orders of DCO Lodhran, Ghulam Fareed. More than 60% construction on the double storey building had been completed when it was torn down.
“The construction was not authorised nor was the building’s design approved by TMA which is why we have demolished it,” Fareed told The Express Tribune. “There is no other reason.”
It was declared as a store according to the DCO. Amir, a member of the Ahmadiya community, said they were not even given time to approach the courts. TMA officials said they had failed to follow the legal procedure which prompted the action.
Members of the Ahmadi community said they had protested peacefully before the DCO. This was confirmed by Maqbool Khalid, a journalist. Most of them refuse to come on record due to fear of death threats and live in fear of Ahle-Sunnat wal Jamaat members. They have been living in Adaa Zakheera, Kahroar Pakka, Dunyapur, Lodhran and Qutubpur. They have six places worship in the area.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2011.