LAHORE: Policemen scratched out Quranic verses written on the walls of an Ahmedi place of worship and ordered them to cover up short minarets at the entrance as they made the place look like a mosque, The Express Tribune has learnt.
After receiving a complaint about the place of worship in Sultanpura, Kachhupura, a large contingent of Misri Shah police visited it on Wednesday and told the Ahmedis they had a day to make the place look less like a mosque, failing which a case would be registered against them under the ‘Anti-lslamic Activities of Qadiani Group, Lahori Group and Ahmadis (Prohibition and Punishment) Ordinance’ of 1984.
The policemen etched out the verses at the main gate and entrance to the main hall. They were about to tear down the minarets, about five feet high, at the main gate too, but local Ahmedis convinced them to give them a day to cover them as demolishing them would have damaged the whole structure.
An Ahmedi familiar with the matter said that for several days, “irrelevant people” had been instigating non-Ahmedis in the area to complain about the place of worship. He said that they had applied to the local police for the registration of an FIR. He said that the deputy superintendent of police (DSP) concerned had met both sides on Tuesday and they had reached a compromise whereby no case would be registered provided the verses and minarets were removed.
He said that the worship house had been open since 1960 in the same form.
He said there were around 35 Ahmedi families in the area and they had offered no resistance to the police action.
He said that the police arrived at the place on Wednesday, cordoned it off and removed the verses by scratching them off the walls. He said that they had told the police that they would cover up the minarets using tiles to hide their shape.
On Thursday, they told the police they would try to cover the minarets with iron sheeting. Investigation Officer Khalid said that they had pledged to do so overnight.
Misri Shah Station Houser Officer (SHO) Mudassarullah Khan told The Express Tribune that the matter had been resolved amicably. He said no FIR had been registered and there had been no protest by anyone. He said the verses had been removed with the consent of both parties.
The SHO identified the complainants as Rana Muhammad Tufail and Advocate M Badar Alim Sheikh. He said that they had sought a case under Sections 295-B and 298-C of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The complainants, who are residents of Ravi Road, about 15 kilometres from the place of worship, said that the building had the Kalma Tayyeba, names of Allah and prayer verses written at the entrance as well as minarets. “They are non-Muslims and should be tried under the law for depicting themselves as Muslims,” read the complaint.
According to 295-B, “whoever wilfully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Quran or of an extract therefrom or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose shall be punishable with imprisonment for life.”
According to 298-C, “any person of the Qadiani Group or the Lahori Group (who call themselves ‘Ahmedis’ or by any other name), who directly or indirectly, poses as a Muslim, or calls, or refers to, his faith as Islam, or preaches or propagates his faith, or invites others to accept his faith, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, or in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2012.