The police destroyed six minarets at a place of worship for Ahmadis in Kharian city on Tuesday night.
The dome-like structures were taken down in Bait-ul-Hamd by policemen on an application of some members of the Tehreek-e-Tahafuzz-e-Islam, a religious organisation affiliated with the Barelvi sect.
The organisation asked the police to take action under Section 298-B and C of the Pakistan Penal Code, according to which it is illegal for Ahmadis to ‘act or look’ like Muslims, or call their places of worship ‘mosques’.
However, no court order was issued regarding the demolition of these minarets and while SHO Raja Zahid claims the decision came “after a mutual consensus,” the community begs to differ.
At about 9:15 pm on Tuesday policemen, under the supervision of DSP Sultan Meeran went to the place of worship near Kabari Bazaar in the Pul Nullah area of the city.
Six minarets of the double-storey building were demolished, whereas two others, which were bigger in size, could not be taken down due to a lack of skilled labour. The police decided they would be taken down later, said the Ahmadiya community’s area representative, Nasir Dar.
SHO Raja Zahid said it was an “amicable and peaceful process and 80% of the work has been completed.”
Zahid added that a committee was formed by DSP Sultan Meeran, which mutually decided that the minarets should be demolished to avoid any untoward incident in the peaceful city.
Spokesman for the community Saleemuddin sees the move to mar the building, which was built in 1980, as a violation of rights. “Is there a patent for the design? All kinds of buildings have minarets and domes as part of their designs, why can’t Ahmadis retain the ones built before the 1984 ordinance?”
This is the first time since 1984 that minarets of a place of worship of Ahmadis have been destroyed by the police, though a number of places have been sealed by authorities in the past.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2012.