LAHORE: At least five FIRs have been registered across Punjab against the Ahmadi community members for sacrificing animals on Eidul Azha, it emerged on Sunday.

The complaints have been registered under Section 298-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which elaborates on the penalty for persons of the Ahmadi group calling themselves Muslim or preaching or propagating their faith.

Two of the cases have been registered at the Saddar Gojra police station in Toba Tek Singh, while one each has been registered at the Saddar Shahkot police station in Nankana Sahib, Roshanwala police station in Faisalabad and Bad­ami Bagh police station in Lahore.

This comes despite a 2022 judgement of the Supreme Court, ruling that obstructing non-Muslims from practicing their religion within the confines of their place of worship was against the Constitution.

Two suspects in Lahore, Toba Tek Singh taken into custody

One of the two FIRs registered in Toba Tek Singh alleged that on the second day of Eid, the complainant and others saw Ahmadi citizens preparing to sacrifice animals and tried to stop them from “committing a crime”.

The complainant said they went ahead, claiming that the act hurt the sentiments of Muslims. It also called for taking action against the persons in question and for recovering the meat, hide and tools used to sacrifice the animal.

A similar FIR was registered at the same police station. It alleged that on the second day of Eid, two members of the Ahmadi community were sacrificing animals.

The FIR in Nankana Sahib was registered on the complaint of an assistant sub-inspector on the first day of Eid. The complainant alleged that he had received a phone call from someone saying that people from the Ahmadi community were sacrificing animals in the village. After investigation, he found members of Ahmadi community were sacrificing animals.

The FIR registered in Faisalabad on the complaint of a Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan worker on the third day of Eid claimed he saw an Ahmadi community member sacrificing animals and subsequently called the police. When officials came, the accused fled.

The fifth FIR registered in Lahore said several members of the Ahmadi community in the neighbourhood were sacrificing animals.

Meanwhile, a suspect was arrested in Toba Tek Singh and another was picked up from Lahore’s Badami Bagh area.

A spokesperson for the community, Aamir Mehmood, cited last year’s decision by the SC and questioned the basis on which police had registered cases against the community members. He called for dismissing the “baseless” cases, adding that the community had spent this year’s Eid “in fear”.

SC judgement

The SC judgement, penned by Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, said, “To deprive a non-Muslim (minority) of our country from holding his religious beliefs, to obstruct him from professing and practicing his religion within the four walls of his place of worship is against the grain of Constitution and repugnant to the spirit and character of Islamic Republic”.

The order stated: “It also deeply bruises and disfigures human dignity and the right to privacy of a non-Muslim minority, who like all other citizens of this country enjoy the same rights and protections under the Constitution.

“Bigoted behaviour towards our minorities paints the entire nation in poor colour, labelling us as intolerant, dogmatic and rigid. It is time to embrace our constitutional values and live up to our rich Islamic teachings and traditions of equality and tolerance.”

The verdict was issued in connection with a case registered against an Ahmadi community member for “styling their place of worship as a mosque and displaying Shaair-i-Islam on the walls inside their place of worship”.

Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2023

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