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Munir Commission Report -4: Ahmadi Mosque Burnt

A telegraphic complaint about the burning of the Ahmadiya mosque at Samundri and of mercilessly beating peaceful worshippers there, was made by Amir-i-Jama’at-i-Ahmadiya, Bhera, to His Excellency the Governor-General of Pakistan. The Ministry of the Interior by its letter No. 44/1/51-Poll(1) dated 28th May 1951, forwarded a copy of this telegram to the Chief Secretary to the Government of the Punjab requesting for an early report with the comments of the Punjab Government. In reply to this letter S. Ahmad Ali, Home Secretary to Government, Punjab, wrote the following letter No, 8447- BDSB, dated the 28th June 1951:—


“Reference your letter No. 44/l/51.Poll(l), dated 28th May 1951, I am directed to report that on the afternoon of 13th May, 1951, a mob of non-Ahmadis (Ahrar) of Samundri town in Lyallpur district collected together and set fire to the mats and roof of the kacha mosque consisting of one room and a platform built on evacuee land in the vicinity of District Board School. Some members of the Ahmadiya community who happened to be present on the spot were assaulted. A peon of the D. B. School carried the news of the sacrilege and arson to the local police and they rushed to the spot immediately. The District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police also arrived without any loss of time and the situation was brought under control. Fourteen of the culprits were arrested flagrante delicto. Later, 6 more were arrested and on completion of investigation the case was put in Court for trial. The prompt action taken by the local authorities stopped, any deterioration of the situation and the atmosphere is now calm and quiet.


“The person who lodged the F.I.R. with the police gave an exaggerated version of the incident and involved some innocent persons, two of whom are revenue officials. It was found, after investigation that they did not participate in the commission of the crime and the allegations against them were unfounded.

 “Further developments will be communicated in due course”.




On 25th August 1951, Mr. Bashir Ahmad, Amir-i-Jama’at-i-Ahmadiya, Lahore, addressed a letter to the Deputy Commissioner, Lahore, complaining of a speech by Sayyad Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari, made in a largely attended public meeting held in Lahore outside Mochi Gate on 19th August 1951, in which the speaker had alleged —

(a) That Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, was disloyal to the State,


(b) That before the Partition the head of the Ahmadiya community had told his followers that Pakistan was not going to come into existence and that if any such State was created, the divided country would again be re-united, and


(c) That the Ahmadis were spies of the Indian Government and that if war broke out with India, advantage should be taken of the opportunity to rout the Ahmadis who were enemies of the State. This letter, with the Commissioner’s note, was sent to the Home Secretary (S. Ahmad Ali) who on 1st September 1961 made the following comments on it:—


“I have discussed this matter with H.C.M. who has asked me to request the I.G. Police to convey it to the Ahrar leaders that they have been exceeding their limits in their speeches, both in regard to the Foreign Minister and also in regard to the Ahmadiya community in general. There has already been a riot and murder, blackening of the face of an Ahmadi and making him, ride on a donkey and the burning of one of their mosques. If the Ahrar do not now atop their provocative speeches, the result on law and order might be disastrous. In the past several warnings have already been given to them. They should, therefore, now be told once for all that Government wants to stop them from these provocative speeches which are likely to disturb the peace of the Province and if they will not take this warning, Government will Take all steps to have its orders obeyed and the Ahrar themselves will be responsible for the consequences “l have asked, the Deputy Commissioner to tell Mr. Bashir Ahmad, Advocate, that they should not hold this retaliatory meeting which they intend to hold tomorrow, and I hope he will obey, but if he does not, action will have to be taken under section 144, Cr. P. C. to stop the meeting.” When the case came to Mr. Qurban Ali Khan, I.G.P., he wrote: —




“I have explained the whole position as explained in the above note, to Sheikh Husam-ud-Din, General Secretary of the Pakistan Majlis-i-Ahrar. He has understood the effect which the provocative speeches are likely to create on the law and order position, particularly at this juncture, and he assures me that it is their policy not to create any controversial situation while the country is facing a crisis to meet which unity amongst all sections of Pakistanis is imperative. Sheikh Husam-ud-Din further tells me that he will take the earliest opportunity to call an emergent meeting of their Working Committee to discuss what I have told him and to impress upon the members the need for being careful in their public utterances.


“This note has been read over to Sheikh Husam-ud-Din and, in fact, is partly dictated by him.”

The case was submitted on 3rd September 1951 to the Chief Minister for information. On 4th September 1951, the Ministry of the Interior addressed a letter, D. O. No. 720-S(l)/51, to the Chief Secretary to the Government of the Punjab, saying that Sayyad Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari, while speaking at a public meeting in Mochi Gate sometime during August last, had alleged that Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan, Minister for Foreign Affairs, was “selling Kashmir to the Government of India for the sake of Qadian” and inquiring whether the report was correct and suggesting that a clear warning should be conveyed to Bukhari and other Ahrar leaders that they must desist from maligning the Minister for Foreign Affairs as well as the Ahmadis generally. In reply to this, the Chief Secretary wrote the following D.O.No. 11794-BDSB., dated the 19th September 1951: —


“Please refer to your D. O. letter No. 720-S-(I)/51, dated the 4th September, 1951. Sayyad Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari addressed a public meeting outside Mochi Gate, Lahore, on 19th August 1951. He did make disparaging remarks about the Ahmadiya community and said that Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud was opposed to the formation of Pakistan and had publicly made a plea for getting India united. This statement, he alleged, was made in the presence of Honourable Ch. Muhammad Zafrullah Khan who, according to him, did not contradict it. The Provincial Government has already taken note of the mischievous speeches which Ahrar leaders have been making. On the 1st September, 1951, Sheikh Husam-ud-Din, General-Secretary of the Majlis-i-Ahrar, was sent for by the Inspector General of Police and administered a clear warning. Sheikh Husam-ud-Din assured the Inspector-General that it was not the policy of his party to create dissensions particularly when the country was faced with an emergency. He undertook further to call a meeting of the Working Committee at the earliest opportunity with a view to impressing upon the members to exercise forbearance and restraint in their public utterances. In view of this unequivocal assurance, the Provincial Government does not consider it necessary to administer another warning to Sayyad Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari. The situation is being watched and suitable action will be taken if it is found that the warning has not been heeded”.


On 27th September 1951, the Superintendent of Police, Sargodha, reported to A. I. G. P. that in a meeting held inside Juma Mosque Bhalwal on 22nd and 23rd September 1951, two Ahrar workers, namely. Habib-ur-Rahman and Maulvi Muhammad Hayat, had made virulent speeches against the Ahmadiya sect. These speeches were examined by Mr. Anwar Ali, D.I.G., C.I.D., who on 3rd October 1951 remarked, that the speeches were not only illegal but open to objection and that it appeared that the workers of the Central Committee of Majlis-i-Ahrar bad not issued any directions to their district workers in pursuance of the undertaking given by Sheikh Husam-ud-Din to Mr. Qurban Ali Khan. He directed the Superintendent of Police to send for the leaders of the local Ahrar party and to administer a warning to them. Mr. Qurban Ali Khan endorsed this action and said: —


“And if they do not, legal action should be taken against them at-once. We would be justified in this now as necessary warnings have been issued to their leaders and they have promised not to destroy the country by such speeches”.




By this time the Central Government had begun feeling concerned about the acute sectarian dissensions and repeated attacks on Ahmadis and their leaders and tenets which were being reported to it. Accordingly the Ministry of the Interior wrote the following letter to the Chief Secretary to Government, Punjab, on 7th September 1951: —


“Instances have occurred where Muslim members of various sects have indulged in objectionable propaganda against, each other calculated to hurt each other’s feelings and leading, in its extreme cases, to personal violence. An illustration of this type of agitation is the Ahmadi-Ahrar controversy in the Punjab. The Central Government consider that while the legitimate rights of any community or sect to propagate its religious beliefs should not be unduly restricted, and no discrimination should be made between the protagonists of differing views, religious controversies should be confined to reasonable limits and should not be allowed to reach a point where the public peace and tranquillity may be endangered. Militant or aggressive sectarianism should, in the opinion of the Central Government, be suppressed with a heavy hand.


2. I am desired to bring the views of the Central Government in this matter to your notice for such action as may become necessary in your jurisdiction”. On receipt of this letter, Mr. Anwar Ali, D.I.G., C.I.D., on 1st October 1951, wrote the following note on the sectarian position as it existed in the Province: —


“The Ahrar have exceeded the bounds of decency and have been making sacrilegious attacks against Ahmadis. They have even been responsible for provoking violence against the Ahmadis. At Okara, one Ahmadi was killed as a result of the tension which followed the speeches made by the Ahrar. At a village near Okara, Ahmadi preachers were waylaid and their faces blackened. At Rawalpindi, an Ahmadi was killed, although it could not be clearly established that the murder was communal. At Samundri, an Ahmadi mosque was set fire to and reduced to ashes. About three years ago, a young PAMC doctor, who was an Ahmadi, was attacked at Quetta and stoned to death. For all this violence the responsibility lies on the Ahrar.


2. Shia-Sunni differences have been reported from different parts of the Province. The incident at village Shahpur Kanjra, where a child of 3 and a woman were killed, was, however, the first incident in which Shias became the victims of communal violence.


3. At Gujranwala, sectarian tension existed between the Sunnis and the Wahabis. The difference arose over the number of travih which should be read in the month of Ramazan.


4. The immediate problem is to deal with the Ahrar. A warning has already been issued and I suggest that if this warning is not heeded, firm action should be taken. Government must also do everything to promote amity between Shias and Sunnis”. Mr. Qurban Ali Khan, I. G. P’s. note, dated 4th October 1951, on this was: —


“On another reference this morning I have suggested to D. I. G., C. I. D., that if the Ahrar, despite repeated warnings, do not desist from making provocative speeches, they should be dealt with under the law by the local authorities. There is not the least doubt that Government must now deal firmly with all persons and parties indulging in sectarian propaganda”. At this stage, sectarian disputes took a still more ugly turn. Shia-Sunni differences began to appear and develop in several places. There was a dispute about the construction of an Imambara in Krishan Nagar, Lahore, and a serious apprehension of breach of peace over a ta’zia procession was reported from Bhakkar. In Shahpur Kanjra, about seven miles from Lahore, there was Shia-Sunni riot in which two Shias were killed, one of them being a woman, and the other a child of three. When these disputes came to the notice of Government, S. Ahmad Ali, the Home Secretary, wrote the following note on 29th September 1951:—


 “The policy of the present Government has been made known, but it is now for the leaders of public opinion to take effective steps to check religious fanaticism of this sort. We have far more important things at our hands and certainly will not allow people to ruin themselves in religious squabbles. What is happening now, seems almost a writing on the wall and God help us if we do not stop these ignorant people from cutting each other’s throat and thus bringing comfort and cheer to our enemies”. On reviewing the whole situation, the Chief Secretary on 3rd November 1951 wrote the following D. O. No. 7505-HG-51/76135 to all the Deputy Commissioners in the Punjab:—


“I am desired to say that various instances have come to the notice of Government where Muslim members of various sects have indulged in objectionable propaganda against each other calculated to hurt each other’s feelings and leading, not unoften, to personal violence. Glaring illustrations of this are found in the Shia-Sunni differences and the Ahmadi-Ahrar controversy. It has also been alleged that at times some local officers have identified themselves in these schisms. Those differences amongst various sects are a source of unrest in the Province and cause grave concern to the administration. Government consider that while the legitimate rights of any community or sect to practice its religious beliefs should not be unduly restricted and no discrimination should be made between the protagonists of different views, religious controversies should be confined to reasonable limits and should not be allowed to reach a point where the public peace and tranquillity is likely to be endangered. Government, therefore, direct that militant or aggressive sectarianism should always be suppressed firmly.


”2. Government have decided that—


(i) Local officers must take strong action whenever there is likelihood of trouble on account of communal provocative speeches or conduct leading to communal tension. For this purpose they should invoke the provisions of prohibitory orders as laid down in the criminal law.


(ii) In case it is found that any local officers are involved in the affair, drastic steps should be taken against them if the inquiry reveals that they had participated with any party in instigating the trouble.


(iii) District Officers should enlist the support and co-operation of the local public organisations to propagate against fanaticism and to preach religious tolerance as enjoined by Islam”. Within a fortnight of the date of this letter, the Superintendent of Police, Lyallpur, by his wireless message dated 18th November 1951, reported that a Seerat-un-Nabi meeting held by the Ahmadis in Lyallpur was broken up by the Ahrar, with the result that the clash between the two parties had resulted in injuries to several men on either side.




An Ahrar conference called the Suba Conference or the Khatm-i-Nubuwwat Conference or the Difa’ Conference was announced to be held at Okara in the Montgomery district on 24th and 25th November 1951. The local police officers suggested that this meeting should be banned and the suggestion was accepted by the Chief Minister. In the meantime, however, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Cheema, had arrived at a settlement with the Ahrar and permitted them not only to hold the meeting but had also offered to preside over it himself. Mr. Cheema insisted that this conference be permitted to be held and the Government agreed to this. But the apprehensions of the local police officers turned out to be true because in the speech made by Qazi Ehsan Ahmad Shujabadi in the meeting presided over by Mr. Cheema, he alleged that Ahmadis had a hand in the assassination of the Quaid-i-Millat which had occurred in the preceding October. On the following day Mr. Faiz Muhammad Khan, the Additional District Magistrate, attended the meeting and delivered a short speech. Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari as usual made a long speech in the course of which he referred to Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad’s statement that even after the creation of Pakistan efforts would be made for reunion of the country. He described this as an act of treachery and proceeded to say that one traitor was worse than ten million swine (khanzeers).


Taking Mr. Cheema’s conduct as a precedent the Deputy Commissioner of Muzaffargarh attended a Defence Conference at Muzaffargarh on 28th and 29th November 1951, and the Deputy Commissioner, Gujrat, made a request to preside over a similar meeting in his district. The request, however, was turned down and Mr. Cheema’s own conduct, which was the subject-matter of lengthy correspondence between him and the Government, was not approved by the Government.


On 22nd November 1951, Mr. Bashir Ahmad, Amir-i-Jama’at-i-Ahmadiya, Lahore, wrote a letter to the Chief Secretary complaining of a highly inflammatory speech delivered by Sayyad Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari in Lahore in the preceding September. In this letter he pointed out that two meetings organised by the Ahmadiya community to which speakers of all sects had been invited to address the audience on the life of the Holy Prophet on the occasion of ‘Seerat-un-Nabi’, had been obstructed at Multan and Lahore, that religious intolerance had manifested itself in the assassination of the Quaid-i-Millat, in Shia-Sunni conflicts and attacks on Christians, and that unless curbed, it would assume proportions which may prove a headache for the administration.


He claimed for every subject of the State the liberty to profess and preach his faith and asked the Government to have an absolutely clear policy in the matter which should be followed in practice. He complained that either the Government had no policy on the subject or those who had to carry it out were not serious about it and requested the Government to have the position examined thoroughly. The Chief Secretary asked for comments on this application from the Inspector- General of Police, Mr. Qurban Ali Khan, who wrote a short and clear note stating that he agreed with every single word of Mr. Bashir Ahmad’s representation and remarked that irrespective of religious faith or creed it was the clear duty of the Government to protect every one against aggression, that this could be done only if a firm policy were decided upon and clear instructions issued to the district officers and that the earlier this was done, the better it was for the administration and the people.


In those very days another incident had been reported by the Superintendent of Police, Muzaffargarh, in his weekly confidential diary for the week ending 27th October 1951. The report was that a public meeting had been held on 21st October 1951 at Alipur under the auspices of the Ahrar party, which was addressed by a single speaker, Sayyad Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari, that in his speech Bukhari had alleged that the Mirzais had not accepted the Partition willingly and expected once more to unite with India, that they were traitors to Pakistan and were working as Indian spies and that a Mirzai spy had been caught in Lahore collaborating with an Indian spy Gopal Das. This report was taken notice of by Mr. Khuda Bakhsh, S. P. (B) who sent it up to the D. I. G. with the remark that the warning administered once to Master Taj-ud-Dins the President, and subsequently to Maulvi Mazhar Ali Azhar, the General .Secretary, of the Majlis-i-Ahrar had had no effect. The D. I. G., Mr. Anwar Ali, again, wrote a long note on 7th November 1951 referring to the warnings given by the Governor, the Chief Secretary the Advisor for Law, and the I. G. Police, to the Ahrar leaders, including Sh. Husam-ud-Din, and to the irresponsible speeches made by the Ahrar at Okara in consequence of which faces of some Ahmadi preachers were blackened and one Ahmadi killed, and made the following proposals:—


(1) That one or two Ahrar leaders who had been promoting hatred among classes should be served with a gag order and forbidden from making public speeches,


(2) That as an alternative such persons should be restricted to their home villages and not allowed to move out without the previous sanction of Government, and


(3) That they should be prosecuted under section 153-A for causing hatred between communities.


He ended by pointing out that unless something drastic was done, the Ahrar leaders would not respond to any gentlemanly treatment. When the case came up to Mr. Qurban Ali Khan, he on 14th November 1951 took careful stock of the position and remarked that the Ahrar had done enough to justify firm action being taken against them, that the warning conveyed by him to Sh. Husam-ud-Din had had no effect on the Ahrar, that it was obvious that no warning could be of any use, that even if the Ahrar as a party refrained for some-time from denouncing the Ahmadis, Bukhari who had no qualification except that of abusing the Ahmadis and was incorrigible would not be able to desist from it. His own view he stated as follows:—


“Unless therefore he (Bukhari) is prohibited from attending public meetings or is shown someone else publicly to abuse he will never stop saying all that he is doing or even worse against the Ahmadis. If he is prohibited from attending or addressing public meetings, he and his party would be provided with a platform to come to life again. If he is arrested, his party, though dying, will gain vigour again. It is really now for the politicians to weigh and see which is the lesser evil — to deal firmly with the Ahrar and to face their agitation, or to let them go on with this nefarious and dangerous and uncalled fop propaganda against the Ahmadis. Personally I would take the former action. It will not only curb the Ahrar but would also help build a more tolerant character in the nation”.


The case came to the Chief Secretary who submitted it to the Chief Minister to decide the point after hearing the I. G. and the D. I. G., C. I. D. in his (Chief Secretary’s) presence. The Secretary to the Chief Minister returned the file with the remark that the Chief Minister intended to talk to the Ahrar leaders and that no action need be taken until he had discussed things with them.


A deputation of the Ahmadis waited upon the Chief Secretary on 30th November 1951 in connection with Mr. Bashir Ahmad’s representation. Mr. S. Alamgir, who was present at the interview, recorded a note of what transpired at the interview, and submitted it to the Chief Secretary on 1st December 1951. He pointed out that Ahrar-Ahmadiya controversy was gaining ground every day and was likely to develop further and that it was necessary for Government to evolve a definite policy to deal with this important question which had serious repercussions on law and order. He suggested to the Chief Secretary that the Chief Minister should call a meeting of the Chief Secretary, I. G. P. and Deputy Home Secretary before he (Chief Minister) talked to the leaders of the Ahrar party. Accordingly on 6th December 1951, the Chief Minister, the Chief Secretary, the Inspector-General of Police and Deputy Home Secretary met in a meeting and decided to issue a formal letter to Commissioners of Divisions and Deputy Commissioners that strong executive measures should be taken to enable the Ahrar and the Ahmadis to hold their respective meetings and to ensure that no violence was resorted to by either party. Consequently the following directive was issued to all Deputy Commissioners on 24th December 1951:—


“As you are aware, the Ahrar-Ahmadiya controversy has been brewing for sometime past in the Province and certain incidents of personal violence which occurred recently have caused grave concern to the administration. It has been Government’s firm policy that the legitimate rights of any community or sect to practise its religious beliefs should not be unduly restricted and that no discrimination in this respect should be made between different parties. It is, nevertheless, important that religious controversies should be discouraged or at any rate they should not be allowed to the extent of endangering the public peace and tranquillity.


This letter is particularly designed to invite the attention of district officers to meetings held by the Ahrar or by the Ahmadis. “2. Government feel that wherever the district authorities are vigilant and are able to enforce timely preventive measures, there is little or no likelihood of the Ahrar or of the Ahmadis disturbing each other’s meetings. Clashes have occurred only where the local authorities have failed to adopt a firm attitude or have otherwise failed to assess dispassionately the rights or wrongs of the parties concerned. If both parties are dealt with firmly and justly without any discrimination whatever, there is no reason why this increasing menace of vilification by one Muslim sect of another should not be brought under proper control”.


The Jama’at-i-Ahmadiya, Sialkot, intended to hold its Tabligh Conference in its own ground on 16th and I7th February 1952, but the Ahrar did their utmost to have the meeting banned. Failing in their efforts, they marched with a large crowd towards the place of the meeting with shouts of “banaspati nabi (spurious prophet) murdabad”. “Mirzaeeon ka jalsa band karo”, “Kufr ka jalsa band karo”, and attempted to break through the police cordon. As the Deputy Commissioner, the Superintendent of Police and the Additional District Magistrate were on the spot, having had previous information of the trouble, the Ahrar did not succeed in their design and satisfied themselves by throwing stones when the Ahmadis were returning to their houses after the meeting. Two foot constables were injured in the incident.


The Ahrar held an ‘Istehkam-i-Pakistan Ahrar Conference’ at Sargodha on 24th and 25th March 1952. As what happened at this conference was the subject-matter of correspondence between the Central Government and the Provincial Government, between the district officers and the Provincial Government and between a deputation of Ahmadis and the Punjab Government, and some decisions were taken to stop the recurrence of such, incidents, it merits a detailed description. A full account of the incidents connected with this conference is contained in Memorandum No. 385-87/C, dated 28th March 1952, sent by the Superintendent of Police to the Deputy Inspector- General of Police, C. I. D., Punjab, which is as follows:—


“The Ahrar of Sargodha held a conference advertised as ‘Istehkam-i-Pakistan Ahrar Conference’ at Sargodha on March 24 and 25. This conference was sponsored and organised by Maulvi Muhammad Abdullah Ahrari, bookseller of Sargodha. Maulvi Abdur Rahman of Miani, Maulvi Muhammad Ali Jullundri and Sayyad Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari were the most important speakers at this conference. Maulvi Muhammad Ali Jullundri remarked in the course of his speech that Mirzaies were zindiqs and according to Islamic law zindiqs were liable to be murdered. Another speaker named Ch. Muhammad Sharif Bahawalnagri remarked in the course of his speech that Muslims should be both namazi and ghazi, Sayyad Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari remarked in the course of his speech that Sir Zafrullah Khan was intentionally keeping the Kashmir affair unsolved and was also keeping alive the bitterness between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Sayyad Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari also advised the audience to take out a procession demanding the removal of Sir Zafrullah Khan from his office and further asked the audience to shout ‘Mirzaeeat murdabad’, ‘Sir Zafrullah murdabad’ and ‘Mirza Bashir Ahmad murdabad’.


2. In addition to other resolutions it was resolved in the course of this conference that the Mirzai community should be treated as a separate minority community and Mirzai public servants should be removed from all key posts as Mirzai public servants are establishing a separate organisation under the instructions of their khalifa and mirzaeeat was proving dangerous to the country.


3. The ‘Istehkam-i-Pakistan Ahrar Conference’ was held in the Municipal Gardens both on March 24 and 25 and its audience numbered from 1,000 to 2,000 on both the days.


4. I made police arrangements both on the 24th and 25th March as there was an apprehension of a breach of the peace and the local Ahmadis had made a representation to this effect to the District Magistrate.