Jhelum Riots: Army called in after mob sets fire to Ahmadiyya Mosque

A mob torched the homes of several Ahmadiyya families and an Ahmadiyya Mosque in Pakistan’s Jhelum district on Saturday. The incident came just a day after a mob burnt down a factory owned by Ahmadiyya Muslims in the same area.

The Mosque which is located in Kala Gujran area of Jhelum was being guarded by local police when the mob broke through the security cordon, which was established to safeguard the Mosque, following Friday night’s unrest.

The crowd pelted stones at the Police personnel and in response Police baton charged and tear gassed the protesters in order to bring the situation under control, but were unable to do so.
As tensions rose, a contingent of the Pakistan Army was called in to assist the local police forces.

After the arrival of the army contingent, the situation calmed down, with the mob chanting slogans in favour of the army.

Earlier, an enraged mob set fire to a chipboard factory owned by members of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The factory was set ablaze late Friday night after rumours circulated in the area and announcements were made from Mosques levelling blasphemy allegations on the factory owner and workers.

In wake of the anti-Ahmadiyya riots, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has ordered deployment of the army in aid of the civil administration to maintain law and order in Jhelum. In addition, Punjab’s Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif directed the Cabinet Committee on Law and Order to visit Jhelum and review the situation.

A statement from the Ahmadiyya Muslim community termed the incident “a monstrous plan, an attempt to burn Ahmadis alive”. District police chief Mujahid Afsar said authorities were trying to negotiate between the communities, but the atmosphere was still violent.

And, in what seems to be a first, several Pakistani politicians and celebrities condemned the attack and showed solidarity with Ahmadiyya Muslims.