Pakistan police destroy tombstones of 17 graves belonging to persecuted Ahmadi community in Punjab

A dozen police personnel under the pressure of TLP were seen demolishing the minarets of the Ahmadi worship place in Lahore's Jahman Burki area.
Last Updated : 15 June 2024, 16:21 IST

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Lahore: Police in Pakistan, under pressure from a radical Islamist party, allegedly destroyed the tombstones of 17 graves of the minority Ahmadi community in the Punjab province on Saturday, the second such incident this week. The incident took place in Bahawalpur, some 400 km from Lahore, the provincial capital.

According to the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan, under the pressure of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Punjab Police desecrated at least 17 graves in a graveyard of the Ahmadi community at Basti Shukrani, in Bahawalpur district.

“The TLP activists had been threatening the Ahmadi community and pressuring police to demolish the tombstones of Ahmadi graves. The Ahmadi community living there is feeling vulnerable because of the law enforcers' support to the illegal demand of extremists," Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan said in a statement on Saturday.

It said the graveyard land was allocated to the Ahmadi community by the government of Punjab.

Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan said local clerics were also accompanying the police personnel while removing the tombstones from Ahmadi graves.

At least 43 incidents of desecration of worship places of Ahmadi minority community in Pakistan mostly in Punjab have taken place during the last year.

Most Ahmadi worship places have come under attack by radical Islamists — TLP activists —- while in other incidents police on the pressure of religious extremists demolished minarets, arches, and removed sacred writings.

There is a Lahore High Court ruling which states that the Ahmadi places of worship built prior to a particular ordinance issued in 1984 are legal and hence should not be altered or razed down.

The TLP says that Ahmadi worship places are similar to that of Muslim mosques because they have minarets.

The TLP says constructing or displaying any symbol that identifies Ahmadis as Muslims such as building minarets or domes on mosques, or publicly writing verses from the Quran is not acceptable.

Although Ahmadis consider themselves Muslims, Pakistan’s Parliament in 1974 declared the community as non-Muslims. A decade later, they were not just banned from calling themselves Muslims but were also barred from practising aspects of Islam.

The hate campaign against Ahmadi community in Pakistan is reportedly at an all-time high and two of its members were shot dead by a teenager allegedly for their faith in Punjab last week.

On Wednesday, Pakistani authorities demolished the minarets of a 54-year-old worship place of the minority community in Punjab province, an official of the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan said.

A dozen police personnel under the pressure of TLP were seen demolishing the minarets of the Ahmadi worship place in Lahore's Jahman Burki area.

Published 15 June 2024, 16:21 IST

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