Khushi Muhammad tell it himself:—
“One of the men, who came out dancing with knives, offered his chest to receive a bullet, but I told him that so long as he remained on the other side of the tape, he would get no bullet ; but that the moment he crossed the tape, he would get one. When the firing began, I did not see this man at all. He had disappeared in the crowd. After the first firing a maulvi came up and started abusing the army and the police describing them as kafirs. I told the bugler to blow the bugle. As soon as he heard the bugle, ho rushed back, jumping over the crowd.”
In the afternoon an A. S. I. and a constable were mobbed near the railway station and the revolver of the A. S. I. and the rifle of the constable snatched and their uniforms burnt. Another foot constable, who was carrying some case-property, was assaulted and relieved of the property. Two Ahmadis were stabbed and the houses of three others looted by the mob.
Mr. S. N. Alam, Deputy Inspector-General of Police, arrived in the evening and found that the District Magistrate had handed over the situation to the military. He thought that such handing over was not justified and in consultation with the Commissioner decided to take over from the military. He addressed the police who had become demoralised by the incidents of the 3rd and 4th March and made arrangements for patrolling the city. The military shifted their Brigade Headquarters to the City Kotwali.
On the 5th March the army held a flag march throughout the city and did intensive patrolling. Some processions were dispersed and volunteers arrested. On 6th March Mr. Daultana’s appeal was broadcast over the radio and also conveyed by a wireless message. This created the impression that the Government had capitulated and put the District officers in an unenviable position. The banned processions and public meetings continued and a large number of persons were arrested daily. Ninety-eight volunteers were arrested on 7th, 121 on 8th and 149 on 9th., showing that the appeal of the Chief Minister had no effect on the public.
On the 7th March, Professor Khalid Mahmud and Fazal Haq made speeches calling upon the police and the army to lay down arms and exhorting public servants to strike their work and join the movement.
The agitation drifted on to 10th March when a wireless message from the Chief Secretary, directing the District authorities to put down all lawlessness with firmness, was received. This made the people realise that thereafter the District officers would not put up with any lawlessness. Section 144 orders, therefore, began to be obeyed. Professor Khalid Mahmud, Fazal Haq, Maulvi Sultan Mahmud and others had shifted to mosques from where they were directing the movement by issuing orders and instructions through loud speaker and secret messages. It was not considered expedient to arrest them in the mosques and proceedings under section 87 and 88 of the Code of Criminal Procedure were taken against them. This produced the desired effect and they came out of the mosques and offered themselves for arrest on 12th March. With their arrest the agitation practically ended, and the city was restored to completely normal conditions on 16th March.
The foregoing narrative has been taken from the written statements and evidence of officers. No contradiction of it is to be found in the evidence of non-official witnesses which we recorded at Sialkot. What has been stressed in that evidence is that the District Magistrate beat or caused to be beaten some persons who had been arrested and confined in, jail, that he himself had his jeep set on fire by a police constable, and that he himself encouraged the procession that marched to the railway station on the 1st of March. With the first allegation we are not concerned though there is considerable evidence in support of it; the second is an insult to anyone’s common sense; while the third is denied by Maulvi Muhammad Ali Kandhalvi himself. It is our considered finding that in handing over the situation to the military more than once, the District Magistrate acted wisely and courageously and thus saved the law and the power behind it from public humiliation and ridicule. The responsibility for the consequent bloodshed, if it does not lie on the men concerned, does not lie on the police or the military; it lies elsewhere.
Because of its proximity to Sialkot and of its being the home town of Sahibzada Faiz-ul-Hasan, an Ahrar popular speaker, Gujranwala is an important centre of the Ahrar.
The Ahrar held their Tabligh Conference here early in 1949, but the Conference was not much of a success as the sincerity of the Ahrar to the new-State of Pakistan was still under serious suspicion. They held another Conference in 1951 in the garb of Defence (difa’) Conference. This proved a great success because arrangements for this Conference were made by the President of the City Muslim League. Sayyad Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari spoke at this Conference and is reported to have given expression to his belief that it was an act of piety to kill the Ahmadis and to burn their property. A third conference was held in the same year in which the Ahmadis were described as kafirs and their social and economic boycott was advocated.
On 20th June, 1952, which was Yaum-i-Mutalibat, the Ahrar held a public mooting inside Sheranwala Bagh Mosque in contravention of an order under section 144. This meeting was addressed by Sahibzada Faiz-ul-Hasan, Sheikh Husam-ud-Din and Master Taj-ud-Din, who were all arrested but subsequently released under the orders of the Chief Minister. At another conference in July 1952, Sahibzada Faiz-ul-Hasan is said to have declared that to kill an Ahmadi was to gain the pleasure of God. After the conference was over a tea party was arranged in honour of Maulana Akhtar Ali Khan, which was attended by the Deputy Commissioner and the Muslim League leaders. The Ahmadis subsequently complained to the Deputy Commissioner that at the conference a speaker had incited the audience to murder the head of the Ahmadiyya community. The feeling created against the Ahmadis resulted in the Wazirabad Municipal Committee’s terminating the services of two male and four female Ahmadi teachers. Sahibzada Faizul-Hasan, Maulvi Abdul Wahid, Khatib of the Sheranwala Bagh Mosque, and Maulvi Muhammad Ismail took prominent part in the agitation against the Ahmadis and in canvassing the support of other religious and political parties. A public meeting under the auspices of the Majlis-i-Amal was held at Gujranwala on 2nd and 3rd November, 1952, which was also attended by Mian Tufail Muhammad, a representative of Jama’at-i-Islami. The Majlis advocated social and economic boycott of the Ahmadis, and after this eating houses began to display notices on their premises to the effect that Ahmadis could have their food in separate utensils at those houses. One Abdul Ghaffar Asar, B.A., who earlier had succeeded in his drive against the prostitutes, also joined the movement to widen his sphere of influence. Maulana Akhtar Ali Khan of the ‘Daily Zamindar’ addressed three public meetings in which he collected Rs. 2,000 for the movement. At another meeting held in his home town Karamabad, he made an appeal for contribution of a sum of one crore of rupees to the same cause. After the ultimatum was presented to the Prime Minister in Karachi, intensive preparations commenced for the direct action and maulvis intensified their propaganda in different towns of the district-Comrade Abdul Karim and Maulvi Abdul Ghafur Hazarvi at Wazirabad, Maulvi Abul Hasan Muhammad Yahya and Maulvi Fazal Ahmad at Hafizabad, Latif Ahmad Chishti and Hafiz Abdushshakur at Kamoke and Maulvi Abdul Wahid and Maulvi Muhammad Ismail at Gujranwala. Volunteers began to be enrolled and the quota for Hafizabad, which, was fixed at 500, was completed within a week of the formation of the Majlis-i-Amal. Total enrolment for the district was 4,500 and Mr. Manzur Hasan, the Secretary of the City Muslim League was one of the signatories to the volunteers’ pledge.
Agitation commenced with the arrest of Maulvi Muhammad Ismail, Khatib of the Ahl-i-Hadith Mosque, under the orders of the Provincial Government; Processions of volunteers before their departure for Lahore and public meetings became a daily feature. The Majlis-i-Amal was dissolved and Hakim Abdur Rahman, Vice-President of the Majlis-i-Ahrar, Gujranwala, was appointed a dictator of the movement.
On 2nd March D. O. letter No. 2514-29/B. D. S. B., dated 28th February 1953, from the Chief Secretary was received by the District Magistrate, prohibiting further arrests, but on 1st March 1953 the Superintendent of Police had received instructions from the A. D. I. G., C. I. D., to prevent batches of volunteers from proceeding to Lahore and Karachi, which meant arresting them at Gujranwala. The two instructions were contradictory to each other, and since owing to shortage of Magistrates and police force and accommodation in jail the district officers were not in favour of making any arrests and intended to watch the situation for another day or so, a reference was made to the superior police officers at Lahore as to what to do in the circumstances and the reply received was that the earlier instructions to arrest volunteers had to be carried out and that if there was not sufficient accommodation in jail, the persons arrested could be dumped in distant villages.
At 10 o’clock on 2nd March a meeting was held in the Court Room of the Deputy Commissioner, which was attended by officials and non-officials. The office-bearers of the City Muslim League, however, made this meeting an occasion to denounce their opponents in the League and refused their active co-operation to the district authorities.
The trains to Lahore began at this stage to be interrupted by the crowds which collected at the railway station to see off the volunteers entraining for Lahore. The Additional District Magistrate with a police party went to the railway station and arrested and detrained a batch of 50 volunteers. On this the crowd became excited and held up the train twice.
When the Additional District Magistrate made a second attempt to get the train steamed off, he was attacked and injured together with five policemen including a Sub-Inspector. The same evening the Sind Express was held up at some distance from the railway station by an excited mob of 5,000. The Superintendent of Police reached the scene with six foot constables, but the party was pelted with stones and brickbats. It had grown dark and as the mob, if not dispersed, would have resorted to violence and annoyed the passengers in the train, the Superintendent of Police ordered three foot constables to fire twelve rounds in the air. This dispersed the crowd without causing any casualties. After this a meeting of respectables of the town was called at the railway station but though every one condemned hooliganism, none was prepared to give any practical help lest he should be termed a kafir or Mirzai.
As the Muslim League office-bearers had pledged their support to the Majlis-i-Amal, the dictator of the Majlis-i-Amal called upon Mr. Manzur Hasan, M. L. A., Secretary of the City Muslim League, to lead a batch and to court arrest. Sheikh Aftab Ahmad, the President of the League, suggested that in order to avoid the impression that the movement had the support of the League, a mock arrest of Mr. Manzur Hasan should be staged. This was agreed to, and Mr. Manzur Hasan was arrested, taken in a police jeep and dropped in a remote corner of the district on the understanding that he would not return to Gujranwala for some days. People, however, came to know of the stratagem and on the following day some 200 men went to the house of Sheikh Aftab Ahmad and asked him to join a procession. He was taken out of the house and was made to march with a procession to the Sheranwala Bagh Mosque. By this time Mr. Manzur Hasan had returned to Gujranwala and joined the agitators in the Sheranwala Bagh Mosque, where he made several speeches against the Ahmadis and the Government and led a procession with seven other City Muslim League councillors. They were all arrested.
The statement of the Chief Minister on 6th March was, as directed from Lahore, proclaimed throughout the town. According to information received by the Superintendent of Police, on 7th March attacks were apprehended on the lives and properties of Ahmadis. The situation was discussed with the army who suggested promulgation of an order under section 144 prohibiting public meetings and processions, but the proposal was not accepted by the Superintendent of Police and the Deputy Commissioner, and instead it was decided to arrange joint police and military patrols. After this no incident of lawlessness was reported in the town, except an attempt to loot an Ahmadi’s shop.
On 7th March a frenzied mob of agitators in village Nandpur murdered one Muhammad Husain in the belief that he was an Ahmadi. The investigation showed that this murder was brought about by a trick by one of the enemies of the deceased.
On 8th March the local M. L. As, were called to the Sheranwala Bagh Mosque and requested to go to Lahore for instructions. The M. L. As, met the Chief Minister but brought no definite instructions.
A company of the Army arrived at Gujranwala on 5th March, a battalion on the 6th and the Deputy Inspector-General of Police with two Punjab Constabulary Reserves on the 8th.
When the military arrived, it was welcomed with shouts of ‘Pakistani fauj jis ne Sialkot goli chalane se inkar kar diya zindabad, Pakistani fauj zindabad’. It was being announced by the agitators throughout that they were engaged in jihad, a crusade against infidelity, and posters appealing to the police and the military not to fire but to join in the jihad were put up in several places.
About a dozen Ahmadis in the district were made to renounce their creed. The Muslim League in this district was actively associated with the movement. The Muslim League, Gujranwala City, passed a resolution supporting the khatm-inubuwwat movement, and Mr. Manzur Hasan, its Secretary, sent the same resolution to be moved at the meeting of the Provincial Muslim League Council at Lahore. He also attempted to table a similar resolution at the Dacca session of the All Pakistan Muslim League.
A deputation of Ahmadis waited on the Superintendent of Police on 20th March but he expressed his inability to do anything for them as on the previous day he had asked for instructions from the Chief Minister who had refused to give any because the Centre had not taken any decision in the matter.
With the arrival of reinforcements a round-up of goondas and search for illicit arms commenced. Maulvi Abdul Wahid, who was at the back of the agitation, and Hakim Abdur Rahman, the dictator, were arrested on 11th and 12th March respectively. Some other maulvis then came forward and they were also arrested. Eventually it was decided to raid the Sheranwala Bagh Mosque with the assistance of the military. This was done and the mosque was cleared of the agitators and a sum of Rs. 10,100 recovered from Qari Abdul Karim. This amount is said to have been collected by Sheikh Aftab Ahmad, Mirza Sharif Beg, Muhammad Din. M. A. Aziz Ansari and some councillors of the Gujranwala Muslim League.
Orders for the arrest of Safdar Ali and Naseer Din alias Naseeria, two notorious leaders of goondas, were issued by the District Magistrate. The former managed to slip out, of the district and was subsequently arrested at Jhang. Naseeria evaded arrest for some time but was eventually traced and arrested.
Other centres of agitation in the district were:—
(1) Kamoke—Demonstrations and processions against the Ahmadis and the Government were organised here by Latif Ahmad Chishti and Hafiz Abdush-shakur. The funds seized amounted to Rs. 10,772.
(2) Wazirabad—Maulvi Abdul Ghafur Hazarvi and Comrade Abdul Karim were the local organisers of the movement. A train was held up here by placing a log across the track. Funds seized amounted to Rs. 2,560.
(3) Hafizabad—Feelings were worked upon here by Abul Hasan Muhammad Yahya and Maulvi Fazal Ilahi.
(4) Gakhar—Trains were stopped here. Mir Muhammad Bashir, President of Gakhar Muslim League, courted arrest along with some councillors.
(5) Naushehra Virkan—Dr. Muhammad Ashraf, an old Congressite was responsible for the trouble here.
(6) Sodhra—Public meetings here were organised by Maulvi Abdul Majid of the Ahl-i-Hadith.
The course of events that preceded the commencement of the disturbances here was precisely the same as in the other towns of the Province. The Ahrar started by denouncing the Ahmadis and their religion. In return the Ahmadis began to rake up the past of the Ahrar to strengthen the suspicion against their sincerity to Pakistan. After the All Parties Muslim Convention the Ahrar succeeded in winning the alliance of other religious sects, preachers and pirs, with the result that mosques became propaganda centres of the anti-Ahmadiya movement and Friday sermons were almost exclusively devoted to the deprecation of the Ahmadiya tenets. In November 1952, Sayyad Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari and Qazi Ehsan Ahmad of Shujabad, two top-ranking leaders of the Ahrar, addressed a public meeting at the Liaquat Garden. Thereafter, a vigorous campaign was started for enlistment of volunteers and collection of funds.
With the arrest of the leaders of the movement in Karachi and of Maulana Ghulam Ullah Khan by the Punjab Government on 27th of February, processions and public meetings became the order of the day. The public meeting held in the Liaquat Garden, presided over by the Pir Sahib of Golra Sharif, was perhaps the largest public meeting held in living memory. The situation became critical on 6th March when after exaggerated versions of the events that had happened in Sialkot and Lahore, information came that the Punjab Government had accepted the popular demands and communicated their acceptance to Karachi. The immediate result was that people thought that the Government had surrendered and the processions became more aggressive and more numerous and had to be dispersed by lathi charges.
On 6th March, another meeting was held in the Liaquat Garden. A crowd, after dispersing from the meeting, went along the Murree Road and set fire to an Ahmadi mosque and a small car. Later, that very evening, some other incidents of loot and arson took place. The Ahmadiya Commercial College, Nur Art Press and the Pak Restaurant, situate in different parts of the city, were broken into and attempts were made to loot, burn or otherwise destroy the effects. A non-Ahmadi young man, employed in the Nur Art Press, was stabbed in the belief that he was an Ahmadi, and he succumbed to the injuries caused. As the situation became explosive, the military was called in on 7th March. On that day, telephone wires were cut in the jurisdictions of Police Stations Golra and Sangjani, Military were posted at suitable strategic points in the city.
On 8th March, a furious mob led by Masud Malik, a communist student of the Government College. Rawalpindi, and Maulvi Abdul Quddus Poonchi came in front of the Police Kotwali and started throwing brickbats. The City Magistrate ordered the police to fire and one of the rioters was killed and six others injured. After this, orders under section 144 banning processions and meetings and imposing the night curfew were passed. Two hundred and thirty-nine persons were convicted of breach of the curfew. The organisers of the movement then took refuge in the Jami’ Mosque from where they went on sending volunteers to court arrest. One thousand and thirty-three volunteers were arrested and prosecuted under section 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code. They were all convicted, with the exception of sixty-four who apologised and were released.
The morale and loyalty of the lower ranks of the police and the army began to be affected because of the character of the agitation, and most of the Muslim League leaders and local M. L. As. went into hiding and refused to come out to face the public. In fact they played a double-role, outwardly siding with the authorities but inwardly supporting the agitation. There was no maulvi in the entire district who did not support the agitation.
Among the maulvis arrested were Arif Ullah Shah, Muhammad Maskeen, Muhammad Ismail Zahidi and Abdul Hannan, all members of the All Parties Muslim Convention.
A large number of men came from the surrounding districts to take part in the agitation. A batch of 2,000 Pathans from the Hazara district was reported to be advancing towards Rawalpindi, but the Superintendent of Police prevailed upon the Pir Sahib of Golra Sharif to issue instructions to them to return. Similarly, Maulvi Muhammad Ishaq Mansehrvi, an old but a popular maulvi, also came out to load the movement, but the district authorities succeeded in winning him over and inducing him to issue a written appeal to refrain from lawlessness and disorder.
The agitation died down in the third week of March.
This district is an important centre of the Ahrar, many of whom come from the districts of Jullundur, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana and Amritsar which are also the home districts of most of the colonists. Up to January 1953, the Ahrar-Ahmadiya controversy here took the same course as elsewhere. On the occasion of the Prophet’s birthday celebrations on 1st December 1952, the Ahrar displayed banners on which were written the demands that the Ahmadis be declared a minority and that Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan be removed from the Cabinet. After this the demands became a regular feature in the pre-prayer or post-prayer speeches. The speeches were directed not only against the Ahmadis but also against the Government. At a public meeting held at Jaranwala these demands were reiterated in speeches made by Maulvi Feroze-ud-Din, Hafiz Abdul Qadeer, Maulvi Inayat Ullah Mujahid, Maulvi Mirdad and Maulvi Abdur Rahim. Similar meetings were held at Lyallpur, Samundri, Toba Tek Singh, Tandlianwala and Gojra. All along razakars were being enrolled who took an oath on the Qur’an and signed the pledge for direct action with their blood, Subscription for the movement came in easily.
The number of razakars reached 9,000 and funds collected amounted to Rs. 30,000. The movement had the support of many a Muslim Leaguer. In fact many councillors of the League belonged to the Ahrar party and actually influenced the public in favour of the movement.
Ghulam Nabi Janbaz of Lyallpur, Qazi Muhammad Husain of Tandlianwala and Maulvi Obed Ullah of Lyallpur were arrested on 27th February under the direction of the Provincial Government. On 1st March a procession set out from the Jami’ Masjid, Lyallpur, for the railway station to see off a batch of 15 razakars under the leadership of Maulvi Muhammad Yusuf, Khatib of Jami’ Masjid, which was proceeding to Karachi.
No arrests were made, because telephonic instructions received by the Superintendent of Police from Lahore were that razakars proceeding to Karachi were not to be arrested. On the following day, Sahibzada Iftikhar-ul-Haq made a highly inflammatory speech in front of Railway Station, Lyallpur, where he had been taken in procession by a crowd of about 6,000 people prior to his departure for Lahore with about 100 razakars. He was detrained at Salarwala Railway Station and arrested. Public meetings and processions were banned by an order under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure on 3rd March. Despite this, however, on receiving news of the firing in Sialkot a procession of 4,000 to 5,000 moved from the Jami’ Masjid to the Deputy Commissioner’s house. Before it reached its destination, thirteen persons were arrested and the procession was dispersed. The Agricultural College closed and razakars started pouring in from the country. In the evening, the Deputy Commissioner held a meeting of prominent citizens which was also attended by the Presidents of the District Muslim League and the City Muslim League.
The attitude of both these gentlemen was anything but co-operative, and the latter even stated that his attitude was determined by his interview with the President of the Provincial Muslim League whom he had seen at Lahore a short while earlier.
On the 4th March there was a complete hartal in the town and some 7,000 men collected in the Jami’ Masjid where speeches were made by several maulvis condemning the firing at Sialkot. After the meeting, three separate processions set out which subsequently got mixed up and swelled to 10,000. They then made for the Deputy Commissioner’s house and, reaching there, repeated their demands to him and offered themselves for arrest. The Deputy Commissioner, however, tactfully diverted and himself led the procession towards the jail where leaders of the procession and 124 other persons were arrested. The Superintendent of Police also accompanied the procession.
In response to the Deputy Commissioner’s request to the Home Secretary for the military, a battalion of 9/8th Punjab Regiment arrived on the night of 4th/5th. On 5th March, 50 volunteers were arrested and dropped twenty miles away and 55 members of a procession were arrested under section 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code. The news of firing at Lahore was received at Lyallpur on 6th March. There were several processions formed in protest and about 125 persons were arrested. The Chenab Express was detained near Railway Station, Lyallpur, by volunteers coming from Chak Jhumra.
News was also received that Martial Law had been declared in Lahore. In the evening came the announcement of the Chief Minister to the effect that the Punjab Government agreed with the demands of the agitators and that these with the views of the Punjab Government were being communicated to the Centre and a Minister from the Province was going to Karachi to press them before the Cabinet. This appeal was taken by the agitators as tantamount to a surrender by the Punjab Government and in consequence the campaign was intensified, some of the Muslim League M. L. As. proposing after this to offer themselves for arrest.
The 7th March was a day of rowdyism and lawlessness. Three different processions were taken out and as many as 107 men were arrested, including Sheikh Bashir Ahmad, President, City Muslim League, who courted arrest. The District Courts were attacked by a mob of 10,000 which broke windows, forced Magistrates to close their Courts and then entered the Deputy Commissioner’s house. A retail cloth shop of the Lyallpur Cotton Mills was looted, the railway line damaged and three trains held up near the railway station. Shops and passengers on the railway station were robbed, some women in the train molested, and a cabinman seriously injured. The mob was asked to disperse and on its refusing to obey, the District Magistrate ordered the police to open fire. Accordingly 47 rounds were fired and four persons were killed and four injured. Curfew was imposed after this.
On the same day, some Muslim League M. L. As. led a procession in Samundri. On 8th March, a mob of 20,000 gathered to say funeral prayers for the dead of the previous day. After the prayers a procession was formed which paraded the streets.
Another procession was taken out from the Agricultural College. The curfew was defied throughout the day and about 110 persons were arrested. On hearing that a mob was making for the Chiniot Bazar, the Deputy Commissioner and the Deputy Inspector-General of Police went there with a military patrol and met an aggressive mob. The mob was declared an unlawful assembly and was ordered to disperse, but the order was not obeyed and the District Magistrate ordered the military to open fire. As a result three persons were killed and one wounded.
Some Ahrar volunteers came from Gujranwala in a truck fitted with a mike. They evaded arrest and drove to Jhang where they were arrested. They were carrying with them three revolvers, ample ammunition and a sum of Rs. 30,000.
On the same evening, a mob cut off the wires of the internal transmission system inside the city.
A full-day curfew was clamped on 9th March, but despite this students of the Agricultural College took out a long procession. Razakars poured in from the country and about 120 of them, who had camped in the Jami’ Masjid, were arrested. In the evening, the District Magistrate called a meeting of prominent citizens at which the President of the District Muslim League merely acted as a spokesman of the Committee of Action.
On the 10th March came the second appeal of the Chief Minister directing firm action against the agitators. This produced good effect, because it gave a clear direction to the District officers. The movement, therefore, began to subside and, although a procession of volunteers came out of the Jami’ Masjid on 17th March, the mosque was cleared with the assistance of the mutawalli on the 19th March and the district returned to normal on the 20th March.
Throughout the period no injury was caused to the life or property of any Ahmadi; nor any damage to any property in the city or in the industrial area. There were two incidents of private firing, each by an Ahmadi under a misapprehension, and some children were injured in each.
The other towns in the district, which were affected by the agitation, were Chak Jhumra, Jaranwala, Dijkot, Samundri, Tandlianwala, Gojra, Toba Tek Singh and Kamalia, but no force had to be used in these places and no damage to life or property of Ahmadis was caused.
Total funds seized from the agitators amounted to Rs. 4,723-2-3.
Montgomery is an important Ahrar centre because here (1) many Ahrar have settled. (2) several judicial cases against the Ahrar and sponsors of the anti-Ahmadiya movement originated and (3) the Ahrar run an institution, called Jami’ Rashidia which was the main centre of their religio-political activities. The five leading Ahrar in this district were Mufti Zia-ul-Hasan, a nephew of the Ahrar leader Maulvi Habib-ur-Rahman of Ludhiana, who has settled in Montgomery, Maulvi Habib Ullah, Maulvi Lutfullah and Maulvi Abdullah who are brothers and founders of Jami’ Rashidia at Montgomery, and Maulvi Bashir Ahmad Rizwani who has settled in Okara.
The story of the events that preceded or occurred during the disturbances here is to be found in an exhaustive written statement compiled by Mr. Haq Nawaz, Superintendent of Police, and is the same as elsewhere, namely, counter speeches by the Ahrar and the Ahmadis, a vigorous propaganda against the Ahmadis from the mosques after the demands had been formulated by the All Parties Muslim Convention in July 1952, collection of funds and recruitment of volunteers for the direct action and, after the arrests on 27th February, public meetings and processions and arrests under section 107, Criminal Procedure Code or section 3 of the Punjab Public Safety Act. Local members of the Jama’at-i-Islami and other maulvis joined the movement and mosques were converted into headquarters of the razakars. The names of persons of different parties including the Ahrar, the Jama’at-i-Islami and the Muslim League who took active part in the demonstrations are given in appendix 1 to the written statement of the Superintendent of Police. The number of volunteers recruited was 2,000 in Montgomery, 1,500 in Okara, 700 in Arifwala and 200 in Chichawatni.
Orders of the Provincial Government to arrest Maulvi Lutfullah and Habib Ullah were received on 27th February. The latter was already undergoing a sentence of imprisonment for contempt under an order of the High Court. The District authorities intended to make more arrests and obtained the Government’s permission to arrest Mufti Zia-ul-Hasan and M. Abdullah I and M. Abdullah II. On 2nd March instructions were received from the A. D. I. G. that volunteers proceeding to Karachi were not to be arrested.
The Chief Minister’s appeal of 6th March had the same effect here as elsewhere, namely, it gave further impetus to the agitation.
The only incidents of importance that occurred in this district were at Okara. On 6th March a mob of 3,000 visited the railway station and detained the Down Pakistan Mail for three hours. The crowd also broke the windows of carriages and vacuum chains and attempted to molest lady passengers. On 8th March, telegraph lines were cut near Okara. On 3rd April, after some fiery speeches had been made in the Jami’ Mosque, a procession of women, displaying some placards, came out. The police attempted to seize the placards, but an excited mob of 500 rushed towards the police. While the crowd was being pushed back by the police, a 70-year-old man received an injury and later died in the hospital. There is also the incident of 8th March, which we see no reason to disbelieve though it is not mentioned in any of the official statements, of Hafiz Muhammad Bakhsh, Secretary Ahmadiya Jama’at in Chak No. 2/4-L, near Okara; and his family members, of whom one is a graduate and the other a B. A., LL.B., having been made to recant their creed and abuse the founder of the Ahmadiya movement and of their having been taken from their village by a mob of 4 or 5 thousands to Jami’ Millia, Okara, where they were produced and required to repeat their recantation before Maulvi Zia-ud-Din and Maulvi Mueen-ud-Din.
A 24-hour curfew was imposed in Montgomery and Okara on 14th March to facilitate arrest of the ring leaders and again from 2-30 p.m. to 6 a.m. on 17th March at Montgomery. Public processions and meetings also were banned in Montgomery and Okara for a period of 17 days on 13th March.
The district returned to normal after the incident of Okara on 3rd April 1953.