Worker behind Jhelum’s anti-Ahmadiyya riots wanted a pay raise

The complainant in the FIR, registered against the factory’s security in-charge for allegedly torching some pages of the Holy Quran at the Pakistan Chip Board Factory in Jhelum on November 20, says he had not witnessed the torching incident but had filed the complaint on the statement of one of his colleagues who claimed he had seen it.

Basharat Hussain, the complainant, has told The Express Tribune that he had entered the factory at 4pm that day and had seen Masood Ahmed, one of his colleagues, carrying half burnt pages of the Holy Quran and shouting at Security In-charge Qamar Ahmed Tahir. “He was threatening to tell local clerics about what Tahir he had done.”

Hussain says that he had tried to get Ahmed to calm down but he kept swearing at Tahir and used abusive words for him. “I told him not to instigate people against Ahmadis but he refused to listen to reason.”

It was then that Hussain called up police on the 15 helpline. The cops arrived within 20 minutes and arrested Tahir.

Hussain says his colleague Hammadul Hassan told him that they had found half burnt volumes of the Holy Quran while collecting the ashes from the boiler. He says that Hassan and others had put out the fire from the burnt copies and then realised they were holding several half burnt volumes of the Holy Quran.

However, the FIR, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, carries a different account of events. In the FIR, Hussain says that Tahir had chucked volumes of the Holy Quran into the boiler furnace after snatching the volumes from Hassan. The FIR says Hassan and Ahmed, among others, had managed to take some of the copies out of the furnace.

When asked about the divergent accounts of the incident, Hussain says that he can’t read or write and the police station moharrar had written down his account of the events. He says some of the details might have been lost in the dictation.

Hussain says he was unaware of any bad blood between Ahmed and Tahir. He says he had accompanied the police to the police station when they were taking Tahir away. “In the meantime, Ahmed ran to his village and brought back dozens of people intent upon burning down the factory.”

When Tahir recorded his statement before the investigation officer, he told him that he had not incited the violence, in fact, he had told the IO that he was at the police station before the mob had arrived at the factory, Hussain says. “This statement was found to be false and the police caught on to it and arrested him…Ahmed has been in police custody since then.”

Investigation Officer Inspector Saleh Muhammad told The Express Tribune that Ahmed was behind the whole affair.

He says Ahmed had instigated the mob against the factory administration and had torched the factory and residences of Ahmadi families.