Three persons were booked and arrested for vandalising a place of worship of the minority Ahmadi community in Karachi’s Saddar area on Monday for a second time in a short span of less than seven months, community members said.
Police and community representatives said that a mob stormed into Ahmadiyya Hall near Electronics Market and destroyed its minarets, doors, windows, etc.
Amir Mehmood, a spokesperson for the Jamaat-i-Ahmadiyya, said that the same place of worship was attacked in February this year.
“An FIR was registered, but the culprits were let off. If prompt action was taken back then, today’s attack could have been prevented,” he said.
“The extremists broke the minarets, vandalised the place, and raised inciting slogans. Some of them even beat up innocent Ahmadis at the place of worship,” he said.
He said around 10 persons initially attacked the worship place in the afternoon. “They forcibly entered, destroyed remaining minarets and other things.”
He said that a security guard resorted to aerial firing, forcing the attackers to flee, but later they returned with a mob.
A senior police officer said that contingents of the police rushed to the spot and prevented the mob from attacking it.
The officer said three suspects were arrested and they belonged to a mainstream religious party.
A case was registered against the suspects at the Preedy police station under Sections 186 (Obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 353 (Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 382 (Theft after preparation made for causing death, hurt or restraint in order to the committing of the theft) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The FIR was lodged on behalf of the state, through a police officer, against Riaz Raza, Mohammed Mobin, Inayat Rehman, and 15-20 others.
The complainant ASI Pervez stated that police got information that around 15-20 persons attacked and encircled three policemen — Safdar Husain, Mohammed Bux and Fida Husain — when they attempted to prevent them from attacking the place of worship.
He said a police team rushed to the spot, got their colleagues released from the mob, and arrested three suspects.
It was the second attack on the same place of worship during the current year.
The spokesperson said on Feb 3 several persons had damaged the minarets and vandalised the same worship place. Later, two more worship places in Martin Quarters and Drigh Road were also vandalised. The community had lodged FIRs, but the police did not arrest the culprits and pursue the cases against them in courts, he alleged.
He said these continuous attacks on their halls have ‘terrorised’ the community members.
He opined that by not pursuing these cases against the culprits, the law enforcers and the government were in a way ‘encouraging’ them to continue targeting the community’s halls in Karachi and other parts of the country.
“We have to consider what kind of reputation such incidents build of our country in the international community? Extremely sad how mobs using religion as an excuse for their bigotry are damaging our beloved country’s image,” he said.