Pakistan’s minority Ahmadi Muslims say scores of headstones have been destroyed by Pakistani authorities at a cemetery in Sheikhupura.
Amir Mahmood, a spokesman for the Ahmadiyya Community said the incident took place in Chak 79, a village in the Nawankot area of Sheikhupura district. Mahmood said locals, backed by Pakistani authorities desecrated 35 – 40 Ahmadi graves. He added that the issue arose after locals opposed a plan by Ahmadis to build a funeral home.
BBC Urdu reported that village residents appealed to the local Police to halt the development of the funeral home, to which members of the Ahmadi community agreed. But, the petitioners demanded further action, and urged the Ahmadis to deface Quranic verses from the gravestones of their loved ones. When the Ahmadis protested, local clerics with the help of Police desecrated the graves by destroying the headstones.
Speaking to BBC Urdu, Sadaqat Randhawa, Superintendent of the local Safdarabad police station confirmed that the locals had submitted a petition to the District Police Officer. However, he said that “There has been no incident of desecration of graves,”. Referring to the photos of desecrated graves, he said he had no idea where the photos were from.
The act of desecrating Ahmadi graves is not new in Pakistan. In 2012 over 100 Ahmadi graves were defaced in Punjab’s capital city of Lahore. In February this year, three Ahmadi graves were desecrated in Khushab region.
Chak 79 is home to an estimated 35 to 40 members of the Ahmadi community.