Three of the six Ahmadi families displaced in Gujranwala after an infuriated mob torched their houses in Arafat Colony have not been able to return home despite the passage of over 15 months.
The mob had attacked houses belonging to members of Jamaat-i-Ahmadiyya in the colony on July 28, 2014 after asserting that 20-year-old Aqib Saleem, an Ahmadi, had shared a blasphemous post on Facebook. A case was registered against Saleem and police had nabbed the blasphemy suspect. His case was later heard at an anti-terrorism court. Five-year-old Hira Tabassum, three-year-old Kainat Tabassum and their grandmother Bushra Begum were burnt alive in the incident. The mob had torched another five houses in the locality. The residences were pillaged before being set ablaze.
Saddam Hussain, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khurram, Asif Butt, Asif Dhobi, Tariq Sindhu, Maulvi Hakim Khan and Muhammad Noor had been nominated in an FIR of the incident filed on the complaint of Muhammad Boota, the father of the deceased girls. Police had declared Khan, Hussain and Butt innocent. Khan had been accused of inciting the mobsters by making provocative announcements at a local mosque in the FIR. The other suspects have been imprisoned.
Lahore High Court had dismissed Sindhu’s bail application last week. The Supreme Court had turned down bail applications of Noor and Khurram on September 2, 2009.
On the other hand, the court trying Saleem had acquitted him on August 15, 2015. The counsel for the petitioner had informed the court that his client had been accused of sharing the post in question on July 27, 2014. He said a probe had established that his Facebook account had not been used from July 20 to 28.
Local Ahmadi leader Iqrar Ahmed told The Express Tribune that three of the affected families had returned to the locality. He said locals had not allowed the remaining families to return. Ahmed said Boota, Fazal and Saleem’s families had not been allowed to return. He said they had returned to the locality but had vacated their residences once again after being threatened. Ahmed said the families in question were directly involved in the attack.
He said Boota’s mother had been killed by the mob and Saleem was accused of blasphemy. The community leader said families that had returned were not related to them. Ahmed said police had been patronising the suspects instead of nabbing them earlier. He said they were arrested following the introduction of the National Action Plan against terrorism. Ahmed said police had informed the community that the department would ensure the safe return of the remaining families when the time was right.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.
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