Punjab Police found involved in destroying worship places

Punjab Police found involved in destroying worship places

In Lahore, three Ahmadiyya places of worship have reportedly been subjected to desecration by the police in the Sheikhupura district. The first incident took place in the Kirto area of Narang Mandi, followed by desecration in Nano Dogar in Sharqpur, and Bedaadpur Virkan near Muridke, all within the Sheikhupura district. In each case, the minarets of these places of worship were demolished.

Members of the Ahmadiyya community have accused the Sheikhupura district police of not providing necessary protection for their places of worship and, rather, being complicit in the desecration.

They allege that Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) activists pressured the police and local residents to dismantle the minarets in Kirto Narang Mandi. Previously, residents from Sunni and Shia sects had issued a written statement asserting peaceful coexistence with the Ahmadiyya community in their village.

However, a police team, led by a superintendent of police, demolished the upper portions of the minarets and ordered the remaining parts to be covered. A police officer defended their actions, stating that the Ahmadiyyas had constructed the minarets against the law and had been instructed to remove them.

He mentioned that the police had received numerous complaints about Ahmadiyya places of worship resembling Muslim mosques, which was in violation of the law. The TLP had organized a protest outside the district police officer's office in Sheikhupura in August, demanding the demolition of all minarets on Ahmadiyya places of worship in the district by Rabiul Awwal 11.

They warned of taking matters into their own hands if their demands were not met. A spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya community argued that the place of worship had been built before 1984 and cited a Lahore High Court ruling that stated their places of worship constructed prior to Ordinance XX of 1984 were legal and should not be demolished or altered.

Despite presenting these court orders to the authorities, their appeals went unanswered. The spokesperson alleged that Punjab police officials yielded to pressure from TLP protesters and took action against their places of worship in Sheikhupura.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) expressed concern over these incidents, noting that the Ahmadiyya community has faced at least 34 incidents of place of worship desecration since January, some of which involved alleged police complicity. The HRCP called on the government to protect the rights of religious minorities and deploy special police units to safeguard these sites, in accordance with the 2014 Jillani judgment.

These incidents have drawn attention to the challenges faced by the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan, raising questions about religious freedom and tolerance in the country. Advocacy groups and the HRCP have urged the government to take decisive action to address this issue and protect the rights of all citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs.