A Muslim mob allegedly stormed a place of worship belonging to the minority Ahmadi community in the Sargodha district of Punjab and demolished parts of it on Monday, according to a spokesperson.
Ahmadi community spokesperson Amir Mehmood claimed that local police personnel were present on the scene when the attack took place but they didn’t do anything to stop the frenzied crowd.
District Police Officer (DPO) Sargodha Faisal Kamran stated that a case was being registered against the attackers after the police received a request about the matter. He added that the police would ensure strict implementation of the law.
The community’s place of worship was built in 1905 in the Ghoghyat village of the Bhera tehsil in Sargodha and no untoward incident had occurred to date.
Police said that during April 16-17 around 11:00pm, approximately 200 to 250 people arrived outside the Ahmadi place of worship and started raising slogans against the community. Some of them went to the roof and desecrated parts of the building, including the dome.
The community’s spokesperson said that the “saddest thing” was that the place of worship was desecrated in police presence. He said that the worship place was “very old” and that relations between Ahmadis and other local residents had always been exemplary.
He maintained that the community had asked the police to take legal action against the attackers but feared that their plea would not be heeded and no action would be taken.
Before this incident, Imam Qari Khalilur Rahman of the local mosque in Ghoghyat had informed the police that the children inside the Ahmadi place of worship were being taught the Quran, which they could not legally do.
A spokesperson for the Sargodha district administration said that the matter was a sensitive issue that had already been discussed in the district peace committee meeting.
The committee had unanimously approved the installation of a board outside the place of worship which indicated that the site was an Ahmadi place of worship.
DPO Kamran says that all cases were being examined legally and legal action would be taken against whichever party had violated the law.
He said that the police did not want to do anything that would make the situation tense. He added that a case was being registered against the workers of a religious group that had vandalised the Ahmadi place of worship.
“All attackers will be arrested and charged under the relevant laws,” he said.
Ahmadis number about 4 million in Pakistan, but the community has been forbidden to call itself Muslim since 1974 by the Pakistani Constitution which considers them “infidels”.
Resultantly, Ahmadis are not even allowed to call their houses of prayer “mosques,” while basic religious practices associated with Islam are forbidden for them.