Chakwal riot: Ahmadi worship place still off-limits to public

Fear reigns in Dulmial village a week after worship place was stormed by a mob


Rana Tanveer December 17, 2016

CHAKWAL: An Ahmadi place of worship, which was sealed by Chakwal’s district administration after being vandalised by thousands of anti-Ahmadi protesters, is still sealed and out of bounds for all people including media men and rights groups who cannot even enter the street leading to the building.

Hundreds of people – who were part of an Eid Miladun Nabi procession – stormed the Ahmadi place of worship at Dulmial village of the district on December 12 and burnt different items inside the premises.

At least one Ahmadi man, who was present inside the worship place at the time, died of cardiac arrest, whereas the protesters claimed that six of their fellows were also injured in the cross firing. More than 40 people from the protesters and two Ahmadis are under arrest in connection with the incident.

A policeman deputed on security duty at the place of worship told The Express Tribune that they have strict instructions not to let any journalist visit the place or take its pictures. He said only people with written permission from Chakwal’s district coordination officer (DCO) can visit the place.

Idrees, a military man, said media as well as general public is not allowed to enter the street leading to the troubled spot. “I cannot even allow a person on telephonic instruction. Only a written permission from the DCO is needed to visit and see the place,” he said.

Talking to The Express Tribune, DCO Javed Mahmood Bhatti said he had not issued any instruction to stop media or general public from visiting the place of worship. “The building is sealed under 145 of Criminal Procedure Codes of Pakistan and the matter is pending before the court, which can de-seal or allow anybody to visit the building,” he said.

However, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) representative Mahmood Khan told The Express Tribune that an HRCP fact finding mission tried to visit the place on Saturday but military men did not allow them even to enter the street leading to the building.

“It is totally illegal to restrict peoples’ movement. We wanted to visit the place to prepare a report based on facts,” he said, adding that a complete ban on visiting the place meant that there was something that the administration was trying to hide.

Meanwhile, fear reigns in Dulmial and adjoining areas following the incident. The village wears a deserted look and the few people that one encounters decline to answer any question, apparently fearing arrests and implication in the case.

On Friday army troops also patrolled the area on vehicles after the district administration imposed Section 144 in view of the call of some religious groups to hold rallies to protest against alleged killing of one of their members during the attack on the Ahmadi place of worship.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2016.

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