More than 100 tombstones were desecrated by unidentified men this past Monday morning.
This incident took place in a graveyard belonging to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Model Town, Lahore. Witnesses state that a group of about a dozen men, who were wearing masks and carrying weapons, entered the graveyard during
early morning hours. Some of the men carried pistols, while others carried larger weapons.
The intruders removed the tombstones from the graves and broke them. They also informed the caretakers that
they were not allowed to use Islamic inscriptions like the Kalima or Bismillah on the tombstones as the “Ahmadis are infidels.”
A guard at the graveyard reported that he heard the sound of someone entering the compound. As he went to investigate,
a group of men jumped on him, beat him up and also took his weapon. This guard also noted that the intruders used a camera and
took his picture once they tied him up. A few of the intruders climbed in from the rear of the graveyard, while others
came through the front entrance.
Once the caretakers and guards were tied up, the intruders begin desecrating the tombstones. Some of the intruders stood guard while the rest continued damaging them. Witnesses to the incident say that they heard the intruders speaking on phones, and were informing someone that they had begun their task. The intruders wore black masks and spoke Urdu along with Punjabi.
The leader of the group seemed to have a Pashto accent and had a beard along with long hair. The intruders informed the guards and caretakers that they were connected to the Taliban. The gunmen fled after a policeman from the Ahmadi community arrived on the scene. The incident lasted about 30 minutes.
In the Past complaints have been made regarding the placing of Islamic incriptions on these tombstones. In July of this year, Tufail Raza spoke with the Liaquatabad Police in Lahore regarding the removal of the inscriptions. The police did not follow up on this, but they did pressure the Ahmadiyya community to remove the text. By October, the police were contacted again, and they chose to dispose the petition made by Tufail Raza.
Idrees Qureshi, who is the SHO at the Liaquatabad Police Station, reported that more than thirty people had visited the station asking for the removal of the tombstone inscriptions. When Qureshi was contacted regarding the desecration incident, he responded by saying he wasn’t aware of it. However, he said that he will send someone to look into it once he received the call.
Ahmed Munir, an Ahmadi who has been talking with the police regarding this issue, has said that the Ahmadis cannot remove the Kalima themselves, as this would be in violation of their faith. However, he also pointed out that they had asked the police to research the law, rather than interpreting it in the same manner as the anti-Ahmadi groups asked them to. The Ahmadis have said that legal action will be taken regarding this incident.
On Tuesday morning, an FIR was registered involving the vandalism of the tombstones. The HRCP (Human Rights Commission of Pakistan) has called attention to the incident, and has demanded that the perpetrators be brought to justice.