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Books and Documents ( 29 March 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Munir Commission Report-Part 19: MR. DAULTANA’S LEAD FOLLOWED BY MOFUSSIL LEAGUES


After the Chief Minister’s statement of 6th March several Muslim League organisations in the Province passed resolutions in support of the demands. Thus, on 6th March the Muslim League, Mian Channu, passed a resolution, that a law should be passed to the effect that no person shall use the word nabi in respect of himself and that if he did so, he would be guilty of an offence. On 7th March 1953, the City Muslim League, Wazirabad passed two resolutions, one of which enjoined every councillor to offer financial help “to the local Majlis-i-Amal and to lay down his life, if necessary, in support of the khatm-i-nubuwwat movement. The resolution further declared that the Muslim League as a body shall not interfere with the programme or activities of Majlis-i-Amal. By the second resolution it was decided to inform the Prime Minister of Pakistan and the Chief Minister of the Punjab by telegram that the demands of the Majlis-i-Amal should be accepted within three days and that failing that members of the City Muslim League would resign en bloc and would request M. L. As. from their constituencies to start a, movement to canvass support for a no-confidence motion against Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan. By the same resolution the measures taken by Government forcibly to suppress the religious demands of the Musalmans were strongly disapproved. On the same day the City Muslim League, Jalalpur Jattan, passed a resolution supporting the khatm-i-nubuwwat movement without any reservation and the statement made by the Chief Minister on 6th March, and in the light of that statement offered its support to any step taken by him. The resolution stated further that members of the League were waiting for instructions from the high command to take practical steps to achieve their object.

The second resolution called upon the Government to accept the demands of the Majlis-i-Amal as early as possible. On 8th March 1953 the Muslim League, Gakhar, passed three resolutions; the first to the effect that in order to maintain the dignity of the League it was necessary for its members to side with the people and to take part in the khatm-inubuwwat movement; the second expressing the gratitude of the League to Mir Muhammad Bashir, its President who had offered himself for arrest and had appealed to all councillors to do likewise; and the third appointing Hakim Ali contractor as President who would make necessary arrangements to provide volunteers for arrest after the arrest of Mir Muhammad Bashir. The City Muslim League, Kamoke, on 10th March 1953, expressed itself in favour of the demand for the declaration of Ahmadis as a minority and for the removal of Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan.

MR. DAULTANA WITHDRAWS 6TH MARCH STATEMENT

On 10th March 1953, Mr. Daultana made the following announcement:—

“On the 6th of this month, I appealed on behalf of my Ministry and myself, to the people of the Province to help in the maintenance of law and order.

I assured them that my Government would be prepared to open immediate negotiations with the leaders of the Tahaffuz-i-khatm-i-nubuwwat movement, and that my Ministers would place their demands before the Central Government with a recommendation that they should be accepted.

The appeal was made at a time when in Lahore lawless elements were indulging in loot, arson, and dislocation of essential services. The Tahaffuz-i-khatmi-nubuwwat movement was being exploited by disruptive groups inimical to Pakistan in order to subvert authority, to create dissensions among Muslims and to promote disorder with a view to injuring the safety and stability of Pakistan.

The object of my appeal was to ensure that the people of this Province exert themselves in the maintenance of law and order so that the enemies of Pakistan are no longer able, under the cloak of a religious movement, to foment internecine dissension and create lawlessness in order to damage the security of Pakistan. In actual fact, unfortunately, lawlessness has continued in spite of my appeal, and in Lahore Martial Law had to be introduced in order to bring the situation under control.

Under the present circumstances, there can be no question of any negotiations with, or of consideration of the demands of the leaders of the Tahaffuz-ikhatm-i-nubuwwat movement. It is the foremost duty of any Government to ensure that law is obeyed and the lives and property of its citizens are fully protected.

Both the Central and Provincial Governments are resolved to suppress lawlessness wherever it should occur and to maintain law and order in the Province. The Government must suppress the present threat to the safety and integrity of the country by every means at their disposal.

I appeal to the people of this Province to co-operate with the Government in restoring law and order wherever it should be threatend and in ensuring that the enemies of Pakistan are not able to exploit the khatm-i-nubuwwat question in order to injure the integrity or safety of the country”.

The statement was endorsed by the Working Committee of the Punjab Muslim League which in its meeting held on 11th March 1953, declared that the Committee whole-heartedly supported the appeal made to the patriotic people of the Punjab and further directed every worker of the Muslim League in the Punjab to follow faithfully the directions contained in that statement.

SIALKOT

The official account of the course of events at Sialkot is contained in the written statements of Mr. I. U. Khan, Commissioner, Mr. S. N. Alam, Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Deputy Commissioner, and Sayyad Abdur Rauf, Superintendent of Police, and the deposition of Lt.-Col. Khushi Muhammad. We held some sittings at Sialkot and recorded a good deal of non-official evidence after Mr. Ghulam Sarwar Khan, the Deputy Commissioner, against whom there were some complaints by the public, had been transferred.

Since Mr. Mazhar Ali Azhar led a batch of Ahrar volunteers into Jammu in connection with the Kashmir agitation in 1931, Sialkot has always been a directive centre of the Ahrar. It has also been an important Ahmadi centre, being next only to Qadian.

The first important incident in the Ahrar-Ahmadiya controversy occurred here when one Ghulam Muhammad Shah made a violent public speech against the Ahmadis for which he was convicted under section 295-A, I. P. C., on 30th November, 1936. The controversy continued in one form or the other till 1949, but no major incident took place during these years. On 26th November, 1949, a Tabligh Conference was convened by the Ahrar with a view to criticising the attitude of the Ahmadis before the Boundary Commission. In reply the Ahmadis held a meeting of their own on 15th January, 1950, to explain their position. While this meeting was in progress, the Ahrar raised a row and a boy was stabbed. The District Magistrate promulgated an order under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, prohibiting meetings for a week. In November 1951 the Ahmadis intended to hold their usual annual session, but in view of the prevailing feeling they were persuaded by the District authorities to put it off. The session was actually held in November 1952 in the Ahmadis’ own jalsagah, but the Ahrar threw brickbats on the audience.

By February, 1952, the Ahrar had succeeded in Consolidating popular opinion against the Ahmadis. The agitation against the Ahmadis now took the form of Tahaffuz-ikhatm-i-nubuwwat and the All Muslim Parties Convention was held in this town on 21st July, 1952. After this convention the Tahaffuz-i-khatm-i-nubuwwat movement became more popular and began to attract religious preachers from all sects. The movement daily gained strength and every Friday sermon in mosques became a diatribe against the Ahmadis, and the three demands began to be vigorously pressed. On 20th July, 1952, the Chief Minister made a speech on the occasion of the District Muslim League Convention at Pasrur in which he declared that he “fully endorsed the khatm-i-nubuwwat movement provided the law and order was not threatened”. In October, 1952, Maulvi Bashir Ahmad Khatib Jami’ Masjid, Pasrur, Karamat Ali Shah and Manzur Ahmad made provocative speeches against the Ahmadis on the occasion of Urs Gullu Shah. Action against them was recommended by the District Magistrate under section 21 of the Punjab Public Safety Act but Government did not agree. In November, 1952, another All Muslim Parties Conference was held in which the three demands were reiterated with added vigour. The Provincial Government had now realised the extent and intensity of the Ahrar-Ahmadiya controversy, and issued a series of general directions in the matter to District Magistrates. The purport of these instructions was that for actionable speeches only prosecutions should be launched and that arrests should not be made in mosques, nor assemblies in the mosques dispersed. Another direction confined action only to Ahrar and Ahmadis. The result, therefore, was that non-Ahrar maulvis felt themselves free to carry on anti-Ahmadi propaganda from the pulpit of every mosque.

An Action Committee was formed in this district on the advice of the Punjab Majlis-i-Amal. This Committee began to enlist razakars and collect funds. An intensive propaganda was carried on by Sahibzada Faiz-ul-Hasan who addressed a series of meetings in the district. On 20th February, 1953, several thousand men gathered for Juma prayers in the Jinnah Park, and were addressed by Maulvi Muhammad Ali Kandhalvi, Professor Khalid Mahmud, Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub and Maulvi Fazal Haq. Pamphlets and booklets against Ahmadi tenets were sold and thousands of rupees collected by the sale of eight-anna tickets.

In accordance with the decisions taken in Karachi on the morning of 27th February, 1953, the Home Secretary sent a wireless message to the District Magistrate directing the arrest of Qazi Manzur Ahmad and Wali Muhammad Jarnail. On 1st March, 1953, the city observed a complete hartal and a mob of about 10,000 people assembled at the railway station to see off the first batch of volunteers leaving for Karachi under the leadership of Maulvi Muhammad Yusuf, to offer their services for direct action. The mob had paraded in the streets, shouting anti-Ahmadi slogans and abusing Government, particularly the Prime Minister. The mob was so unruly that it delayed the train and also damaged windows of some carriages. Some of the men boarded the train with the volunteers and alighted at Narowal. On their return journey they stopped trains, looted station vendors and damaged sugarcane crops along the railway line.

On 2nd March 1953, the District Magistrate received secret D. O. letter No. 2514-29-BDSB, dated 28th February, 1953, conveying the decision of Government that the agitation was to be dealt with firmly. He called a Police-Magistrate meeting and decided:—

(1) to arrest nine ringleaders of the agitation under section 3 of the Punjab Public Safety Act on. the night of 2nd/3rd March (Approval of the Home Secretary to this step was obtained over the telephone);

(2) that persons who offered themselves for arrest should be taken in custody, removed to some far off place and dropped there; and

(3) that the military should be requested to stand by. On the evening of 2nd March, 1953, a very large meeting was held in Ram Tulai, which was addressed by Maulvi Sultan Mahmud, Professor Khalid Mahmud, Maulvi Habib Ahmad and Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub. The tone of the speeches delivered was plainly anti-Government, and Professor Khalid Mahmud warned Khwaja Nazim-ud-Din that he would meet the same fate as Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan,. It was announced that two batches of volunteers would be sent to Karachi on the following day.

Maulvi Muhammad Husain, Maulvi Muhammad Ali Kandhalvi, Muhammad Sadiq son of Bhola, Maulvi Habib Ahmad, Abdul Ghafur Butt and Bashir Ahmad son of Chiragh Din, were arrested on the night of 2nd/3rd March. On the morning of 3rd March, 1953, small crowds appeared in the streets, though the military and the police were patrolling. The crowds had a defiant attitude, but they were dispersed, some by the army and some by the police under the orders of the Additional District Magistrate. When the District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police reached Dar-ush-Shahabia at about 10-15 a.m. they saw a huge crowd collected inside the building and on. the roofs of the surrounding houses, all shouting anti-Government slogans, When asked to disperse, they closed the door of the Shahabia from inside. On this the District Magistrate declared the assembly as unlawful and directed Mr. Khalil-ur-Rahman, Assistant Superintendent of Police, and Khwaja Iqbal Ahmad, Magistrate, to disperse them. Mr. Khalil-ur-Rahman, when he entered the building, discovered that his service revolver bad been removed by someone from the holster. However, he and Khwaja Iqbal Ahmad succeeded in arresting four persons who wore garlands, one of them being Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub who could not be arrested on the night of 2nd/3rd March. After the arrests the crowd again climbed on the roofs of the Dar-ush-Shahabia and the adjoining buildings and began throwing brickbats from behind the parapets, driving the police behind some vehicles that were parked on the road in front of Dar-ush-Shahabia. The shower of brickbats resulted in injuries to the District Magistrate, the Superintendent of Police and the Assistant Superintendent of Police. One Sub-Inspector was stabbed. After a warning was given but not heeded, the District Magistrate ordered the police to open fire. The crowd, however, continued to throw brickbats from behind the parapets.

At this stage another crowd suddenly appeared on the road from behind the Darush-Shahabia and rushed on the police showering brickbats. They were ordered to disperse, but since they continued throwing bricks, the police was ordered to open fire.

The crowd then receded and one man was found dead, the number of rounds fired being twenty-one. The dead body was picked up by the police, but the swelling mob overflowed the police and snatched away the dead body and Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub from custody. The situation went completely out of control and was, therefore, handed over to the military under the command of Lt.-Col. Khushi Muhammad of the 8th Punjab Regiment. The mob besieged the civil officers who were driven into a blind lane from where they managed to get on the roof of a house in the lane where shortly afterwards was brought Ghulam Hasan, A. S. I. who had been stabbed in the stomach and deprived of his revolver. In the meantime the mob set fire to two police vehicles and the jeep of the District Magistrate. The Municipal Fire Brigade was requisitioned, but this was also burnt. At this stage information was received that the mob was going to burn the District Courts Building, the Police Office and other public buildings. The District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police managed to get out and take a guard with them from the Police Lines to protect the public buildings, including the State Bank building.

While the Dar-ush-Shahabia incident was in progress, another crowd was encountered by the City Inspector and the City Magistrate near Chowk Sant Singh in Rangpura, which was heading for Dar-ush-Shahabia. The mob was stopped but it became violent and caused injuries to the City Magistrate, the City Inspector, A. S. I. Sana Ullah and a head constable. The military, however, came to their assistance and saved them from further harm.

By midday the crowd had assumed immense proportions and started attacking police constables on traffic duty. It then formed itself into a procession and went on parading the dead body of the man who had been killed at Dar-ush-Shahabia. It went to the City Muslim League office where the library was looted. Khwaja Muhammad Safdar, M.L.A., President of the City Muslim League, was brought out of his office and taken through the streets with a blackened face. He was, however, rescued by Col. Khushi Muhammad. The procession then marched to Jinnah Park where about 50,000 persons offered funeral prayers for the dead man under the leadership of Maulvi Muhammad Yaqub. Of course the Maulvi delivered a suitable funeral oration.

The Commissioner, having been informed of the situation by telephone, arrived the same evening. The District Magistrate had imposed a 24-hour curfew from 1 p. m. On 3rd to 1 p.m. on 4th, but since owing to shortage of police and military force it could not be enforced, the Commissioner modified it by changing the hours from 10 p. m. to 4-30 a.m. The same evening one Abdul Haye Qureshi, who was a non-Ahmadi bat had dissuaded the mob from indulging in violence, was beaten and his house ransacked. Public meetings and processions were banned on the 4th March by an order under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. On this day the Direct Action Committee shifted its operations from the Dar-ush-Shahabia to the mosque of Maulvi Nur Husain which is situate near the Tehsil and Police Station Sadr. A large mob which was on its way to that mosque, was intercepted and halted. Under the direction of the Commissioner, the District Magistrate ordered the mob to disperse, but it rushed at the officers. The police was ordered to lathi-charge the crowd but this provoked a shower of brickbats from the surrounding houses. Mr. Khalil-ur-Rahman, Assistant Superintendent of Police, sustained a serious head wound and a police van was damaged. The situation was, therefore handed over to the military who opened fire and brought it under control.

Shortly afterwards a mob re-assembled in front of the mosque. The military officers argued with them and requested them to disperse, and finding that this had no effect, pulled a tape across the street as a barrier, warning the crowd not to advance beyond it. But somebody snipped the tape and burnt the Army Flag, and some persons flourishing swords and knives began to dance and advance towards the barrier. The military, under the orders of Brigadier A. K. Akbar, opened fire and four persons were killed and ten wounded. There is an amusing episode in the incident just mentioned. Let Lt.-Col.

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