Complaints filed with police to stop Ahmadis from making Eid sacrifices

    Multiple complaints have been filed with police in several areas of Punjab seeking to stop the Ahmadi community from sacrificing animals on Eidul Azha, according to reports.

    The complainants have cited Section 298-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, contending that Ahmadis can neither call themselves Muslims nor adopt Shaair-i-Islam (Islamic rites).

    Section 298-C of the PPC elaborates on the penalty for a person of the Ahmadi group calling themselves a Muslim or preaching or propagating their faith.

    This comes despite a 2022 judgement of the Supreme Court, ruling that obstructing non-Muslims from practicing their religion within the confines of their place of worship was against the Constitution.

    “According to Section 298-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, they can neither term themselves Muslims nor their religion Islam,” said a complaint filed with Jhang police on June 16, adding that the violation of the provision led to three years of imprisonment.

    The complaint further stated that Ahmadis had been declared non-Muslims under Articles 106(3) and 260(3) of the Constitution, of which the latter carries definitions of Muslim and non-Muslim.

    Moreover, the complaint added that Ahmadis are “also non-Muslims according to various orders of high courts and the Federal Shariat Court (FSC), particularly a 1993 order of the Supreme Court”.

    On these grounds, the complainant maintained that Ahmadis “cannot adopt Islamic rites or preach their religion”.

    Another complaint submitted with Jaranwala police provided the same grounds for restraining Ahmadis from sacrificing animals on Eidul Azha, stating that the ritual was an Islamic rite.

    The complainant asked police to seek a list of Ahmadis residing in Jaranwala, summon them and inform them that “they cannot sacrifice animals” on Eidul Azha.

    And “if they sacrifice animals, a case should be registered against them,” the complaint added.

    A similar complaint was submitted to the police in Kotli, with the complainant stating that if directives barring Ahmadis from sacrificing animals were not issued before Eidul Azha, the situation would worsen. It would lead to “anarchy, clash[es] and destroy peace”.

    Separately, in a letter to the Punjab Home Department, the Lahore High Court Bar Association maintained that on Eidul Azha, the adoption of Islamic rites of Eid prayers and sacrifice of animals were “exclusively only for Muslims”.

    The letter, dated June 22, asked the Home Department to issue directives for SHOs to take “all necessary and requisite preemptive and preventive measures to bound and restrain illegal use of Shaair-i-Islami (gathering for Eid prayer and qurbani)” on all three days of Eidul Azha.

    It further stated that the officers should be warned of “strict/stern departmental action” in case of non-compliance and that legal action should be initiated against relevant individuals from the Ahmadi community and other organisers of such gatherings under Sections 298-C and 298-B of the PPC in such a case as well.

    Following these complaints and the bar’s letter, at least one district police officer (DPO) in Punjab asked his subordinates to hold meetings with individuals of the Ahmadi community in their respective areas and get stamp papers from them as a surety that they will not sacrifice animals on Eidul Azha.

    The order by Hafizabad DPO was issued on Saturday. It cited directives by the Punjab Home Department and Hafizabad deputy commissioner, stating that Muslims had objections over Ahmadis sacrificing animals on Eid and this gave rise to a “religious issue”.

    “Hence, you are strictly directed to hold meetings with individuals from the Ahmadi community in your circle and at the station level and get stamp papers from them [as surety] that they will not sacrifice animals, in line with the Constitution,” the directives for the station house officers (SHOs), deputy superintendents of police and sub-divisional police officers said.

    The officers were instructed to dispatch a copy of the stamp papers to the security branch within two days.

    According to details, police have obtained surety bonds in this regard in Faisalabad, Hafizabad, Sargodha and Layyah.

    Separately, a video shared on social media shows a person saying that the SHOs had given the assurance that no one from the Ahmadi community would perform Eid prayers in their places of worship or sacrifice animals “within their buildings”.

    The person goes on to say that even if they sacrificed animals “inside their buildings, their women will also be violating 298-B and 298-C of the PPC. “And if they do it outside, they will still be committing an offence under these two provisions.”

    Meanwhile, a 2022 judgement of the Supreme Court, authored by Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, states that “to deprive a non-Muslim (minority) of our country from holding his religious beliefs, to obstruct him from professing and practicing his religion within the four walls of his place of worship is against the grain of our democratic Constitution and repugnant to the spirit and character of our Islamic Republic”.

    The written order stated: “It also deeply bruises and disfigures human dignity and the right to privacy of a non-Muslim minority, who like all other citizens of this country enjoy the same rights and protections under the Constitution.

    “Bigoted behaviour towards our minorities paints the entire nation in poor colour, labelling us as intolerant, dogmatic and rigid. It is time to embrace our constitutional values and live up to our rich Islamic teachings and traditions of equality and tolerance.”

    The judgement was issued in connection with a case registered against an individual from an Ahmadi community for “styling their place of worship as a mosque and displaying Shaair-i-Islam on the walls inside their place of worship”.

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