LAHORE: Nearly 125 Ahmadis from 23 families are still running from pillar to post to return to homes they had vacated after an enraged mob set alight eight houses belonging to members of the Ahmadiyya community on July 27 in Gujranwala, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Four people were burnt alive in the incident. A member of the Jamaat-i-Ahmadiyya (JA) said an aged woman had been taken into custody by the police after she had gone to visit the area. He said she was released after the intervention of the CPO. The member said police had stopped them from returning to their houses due to security concerns. He said the department could not let them return till the clerics behind the attack had been convinced to let them come back.
Chaudhry Muhammad Amin, another member of the JA told The Express Tribune that the families had appealed to the police to access their residences several times in vain. He said CPO Waqas Nazeer had called him three times to his office to meet with members of the district peace committee but the meetings had never materialised. Amin said a meeting was held with CPO Nazeer and City SP Tahir Masood Chheena at conference hall. He said CPO Nazeer had constituted a coordination committee of six Ahmadis and five members of the peace committee to facilitate the peaceful return of the displaced families.
SP Chheena expressed hope regarding the ability of the committee to ensure the safe return of the families in 10 days. He said the committee would meet again on Saturday to review proposals in this regard. SP Chheena said committee members had inspected the affected area on Wednesday to evaluate losses and possibilities of rehabilitating the families.
An exasperated mob had attacked residences belonging to Ahmadis on July 27 following an announcement from a mosque that had accused a member of the community of blasphemy. The house of Muhammad Boota was the first to have been targeted by the mob. Boota’s mother, expectant wife and his two daughters perished in the incident.
Six people were nominated and 500 unidentified suspects were accused in an FIR of the incident. The residences of Muhammad Boota, Hasnain Ahmed, Muhammad Ashraf, Muhammad Aslam, Saleem Ahmed, Feroz Deen, Hameed Ahmed and Bashir Ahmed were pillaged and burnt according to the FIR.
Another FIR was registered against Aqib Ahmed, an Ahmadi, who was later arrested.
Munir told The Express Tribune no one had been arrested for setting their houses alight and killing Ahmadis. He said the rioters were free to roam and police had not taken action against them. Munir said police had instructed them to desist from demanding the arrest of the perpetrators before the meeting on Wednesday.
Qari Zahid Saleem, a member of the peace committee, said they were trying to solve the issue amicably. He said he was hopeful that they would be successful in this regard. Saleem said the members of the peace committee would help the families get water, gas and electricity connections restored.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2014.