A hakim accused of being an Ahmadi and proselytising was expelled from Haripur on Wednesday. The police, however, denied expelling Sheikh Arif from the district and said he had decided to leave himself.
Chased out or left voluntarily?
Haripur police officials said that local ulema, accompanied by officials of a local intelligence agency, visited Arif’s clinic some days back and found Quranic verses painted on its shutter along with a picture of one of Mirza Ghulam Ahmed’s companions.
When they asked Arif why he had painted the picture of an Ahmadi over Quranic verses, he initially said the picture was his ancestor’s but later confessed that he had made a mistake.
The ulema accused him of violating the law that restricted Ahmadis from openly preaching their religion. They demanded a complete ban on his business and his expulsion from the district.
A delegation of the ulema met District Police Officer (DPO) Haripur Muhammad Ali Gandapur, who, according to them, ordered an inquiry against the hakim and expelled him from the district.
Deputy Superintendent Police Raja Abdul Saboor rejected the ulemas’ claim and said the decision to leave was his own.
An inquiry into the allegations against the hakim is yet to be completed, he said.
“Since there was some indication of violation of section 298C of the Pakistan Penal Code (which prohibits Ahmadis from behaving as Muslims), the police has asked the dispensers to close the clinic to avoid unrest,” he added.
Talking to The Express Tribune Arif rejected the allegation, “I’m a Barelvi Muslim. I consider [Ahmadis] unbelievers,” he said.
“I met DPO Haripur and took an oath declaring that I was not an Ahmadi and that the painting was copied from a picture on a book on traditional medicine,” he said.
He added that the DPO asked him to avoid Haripur unless he was called for an inquiry.
Arif said he was a qualified hakim and some of his business rivals had conspired to malign him. “The police have arrested two of my staff members.”
The terrified 60-year-old hakim sent two religious decrees issued by Jamia Ashrafia and a mosque Arif frequented for prayers in Lahore, acknowledging that he was not an Ahmadi. He also claimed to have contacted religious scholars to prove his innocence.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 3rd, 2011.