On the demand of a banned outfit, Quranic verses and religious texts were forcibly removed from tablets on Ahmadi graves on Friday night in a cemetery in Mangat Ucha village, around seven kilometres from Hafizabad.
Around 650 Ahmadis reside in the village, mostly from pre-partition days. Before Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims in 1974, their community as well members outside the community used to bury their dead in this graveyard without any discrimination on the basis of faith. Thereafter, the graveyard was divided into two parts for burial on the basis of faith.
Earlier this week, however, an application was moved to the Kassoki police station in the area, which claimed that villagers were against the use of Quranic verses and religious texts on grave tablets.
“This action by Ahmadis creates religious anarchy, undermines faith and also aggravates emotions. Ahmadis cannot use Quranic verses as per Muslim faith,” the application stated.
The application further demanded that police remove all such tablets in order to prevent a clash between the Ahmadi community and others.
The Hafizabad DPO then asked Kassoki police station SHO Aslam Kharal to take ‘appropriate steps’ in order to avoid any untoward incident. The SHO summoned elders and notables of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat in the village, who met him under the supervision of the acting Ameer of the Hafizabad Ahmadiyya Jamaat, Nasir Javaid.
Kharal, according to Javaid, asked the community to remove the Quranic verses and also made it clear that if they did not do so, the police itself would take measures to remove them to ‘in order to maintain peace’ in the area.
“I frankly told the Kassoki SHO during the meeting that we do not believe as per our faith to commit blasphemy or desecrate Quranic verses and we will not remove the tablets inscribed with Quranic verses … We also told the police that if any civilian or villager or religious leader made an attempt to remove the tablets from our graves, we will resist with full force come what may,” Nasir said.
He added that eventually, on Friday, a police party headed by Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) Muhammad Akram entered the graveyard and whitewashed all tablets with Quranic verses on them.
When contacted, Kharal admitted, “The Quranic verses were whitewashed by the police under the supervision of the ASI without any resistance and no one from either side was allowed to join this operation.”
“The entire exercise was conducted to save the locality from a clash and we achieved this target without any resistance,” the SHO said, adding that this was a ‘positive achievement’ for the police.
DSP Tariq Warraich also justified the police action, saying, “It is part of police duty to resolve all issues which may lead to a clash on a sensitive issue.”
On the other hand, Secretary Amoor-e-Aama, Ahmadiyya Jamaat Faisalabad, Syed Mahmood Ahmad Shah, criticised the ‘defiling’ of the graves.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2012.