The Police Station Chenab Nagar – a place also known as Rabwah – in district Jhang of the Punjab province, in a outlandish move, lodged a First Information Report (FIR) against thousands of members of Ahmadiyya community residing in the town under Section 285, 298C, and 337H2 of Pakistan Penal Code. The police booked the whole town on religious grounds.
The action has been taken to stop continuously mounting pressure of certain local and provincial Islamic clerics which police has termed a “reaction” of the Muslims on the 100-year celebrations of caliph-ship by the Ahmadiyya community, a religious school of thought declared a minority in Pakistan in September 1974.
The FIR was lodged on June 8, 2008, a couple of weeks after the official celebrations of the community were held across the country, especially in Rabwah, the central headquarters of the community in Pakistan, on May 27 and 28, 2008.
The FIR lodged on the basis of a “secret report” of local police, does not show the exact figure of the persons alleged of the crime except saying “every person of every locality of the community was seen involved in these celebrations with fire works, lighting their places, and greeting each other (which is amounted to preaching of their faith, a crime according to a controversial law of the country).”
The FIR stated, “The community members were also seen in a joyous mode and wearing colourful caps and displaying badges with religious slogans.” Hence the FIR was lodged under PPC Section 285 (with up to six months imprisonment and Rs 3,000 fine); Section 298C (Anti-Ahmadiyya law with up to three years imprisonment and also liable to fine); and 337H2 (with up to three months imprisonment and fine).
Mr. Saleem U Din (spokesperson of the Ahmadiyya Community) said this was not the first time that such case had been lodged. According to the available record, in 1989, when the community celebrated the 100th year of the foundation of the school of thought, a similar police case was lodged against the whole town and community. This may be a pressure tactic to control the situation on both sides – Islamic clerics and the minority community members. The police cases lodged against both communities had mainly been based on religious, social or political grounds. There are clear signs of victimization but the police registered the cases due to immense pressures.