On July 11, Ahmadis in Fatehpur, Gujrat district, were evicted from their house of worship by a group of residents from the same area over a property dispute, even though the Ahmadi group had documented proof of ownership. The land was originally owned by the assailants, but the Revenue Department had conducted a consolidation exercise and relinquished it to the use of the Ahmadis. However, the former group now wants control of the property. Even if the Ahmadis disagreed with official orders to seal the place of worship while the dispute was ongoing, the other residents of the area had no right to assault them and force them out of their place of worship — all with the backing of the police. The Ahmadis of the area have filed a complaint with the police, but it has refused to register an FIR against the assailants on the grounds that no blood had been shed — all the while completely ignoring the assaults. It appears that along with the group that wrongfully banished the Ahmadis from the place of worship, the police also deserve censuring for backing the forceful ban by those who took matters into their own hands.
The police’s role should not be to take sides. The police’s actual job was to provide protection and justice to the group that was assaulted — in this case, the Ahmadis. The Ahmadi community in the area has expressed concern that clerics have been making threatening announcements against them, which could lead to angry mobs attacking the group. The police, rather than taking a passive role, must be on alert and work to protect the Ahmadi community members from imminent attacks, for they, too, are Pakistani citizens that the police are responsible for the protection and well-being of. The mediating National Interfaith Peace and Harmony Committee and the district coordination officer, along with the police, must display utmost care and sensitivity as they deal with this property issue and arrive at a fair solution.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2013.
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