LAHORE: A charged mob of around 1,000 people, which besieged an Ahmadi place of worship in Chakwal, Punjab was dispersed by police and army personnel on Monday.
At least one Ahmadi, who was present inside the place of worship, died of cardiac arrest, whereas the protesters claimed six of their fellows were injured in the cross firing.
Sayed Sibtul Hasan Shah, who led the protest, said the campaign has “succeeded as Ahmadis have been driven out of the mosque”. Ahmadis, he claimed, opened fire on them from inside the worship place.
Those present at the place of worship locked the building from inside and refused to concede control of the structure until police managed to prevail on them.
Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya spokesperson Saleemudin told The Express Tribune that local clerics had been asking the Ahmadiyya community of Dalmial to handover control of Baitul Zikr to them.
After their demand fell on deaf ears, a large group of men, who took out a rally in connection with Eid Miladun Nabi festivities, ventured towards the place of worship armed with batons and weapons, he said.
The JA spokesperson said the mob began raising anti-Ahmadi slogans upon reaching the site. He added that around 40 members of the Ahmadiyya community locked the building instead of vacating it.
Upon discovering this, the protesters started pelting stones at the building and resorted to aerial firing, Saleemuddin said.
After gaining control of the place of worship, the attackers allegedly burnt articles inside the building, including carpets. They also washed the building to bring it “under the influence of Islam.”
“It was a beautiful place of worship place constructed 100 years ago,” the spokesperson for the community said. Saleemuddin said the place of worship was built by the community in 1860 and has been in use since then.
“Today a mob attacked the worship place, threw stones and shot gunfire. Police could not stop them because of weak deployment,” Saleemuddin told .
The Punjab government tweeted, “As per the details, a misunderstanding developed between the two groups. Home Department is vigilantly following up the issue.”
It said police and administration are making all out efforts to resolve the issue amicably.
“Police tried its best to stop the attackers but failed because of slim deployment,” Malik Nawaz, the police officer in charge of the Choa Saiden Shah area where the attack took place told Reuters.
“Later, high officials reached the spot with more troops and chased out the occupants.” He said police would register a case against the attackers after receiving a formal complaint from the Ahmadi community.
Last week, the Ahmadi community officially requested security and notified Punjab government of a possible attack on the day of the Prophet’s (PBUH) birthday.
The security of Ahmadi places of worship is tightened during Eid Miladun Nabi celebrations in case of any untoward incident owing to some instances of hate speeches during the month. Heavy contingents of police are deployed at their two major places of worship in Lahore at Garhi Shahu and Model Town. Both places of worship were attacked in 2010.
It is also pertinent to mention that since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the naming of the QAU’s National Center of Physics after noble laureate Abdus Salam, a new hate campaign has been initiated against Ahmadis by right wing elements, demanding the PM rescind the directive.