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A community harried by threats-Ahmedis

14 April 2010 No Comment

Op-ed by Mohammad Saleem in The Dawn, Apr 14
FAISALABAD: The fresh wave of heinous crime believed to be perpetrated by a certain religious outfit against a number of Ahmedi families in Faisalabad has forced the latter to move to “safer places.”

The families facing robbery, kidnap for ransom and killing incidents are having sleepless nights more so because of alleged police failure to protect them.

The recent murder of Arshad, Asif and Masood has frightened the community many members of which have gone into hiding. Some of them have accused the police of gross negligence in their case as they say the officials were well informed that the victims (deceased) were on the hit-list of the outlawed organisation.

On April 2 last, assailants shot dead three men after which the police provided constables to the grieved family to allay their fear of any further crime against them.

A member of the community, who talked to Dawn on the condition of anonymity, said the police summoned the notables among them a week before the killing of Dr Arshad and informed them that “some unscrupulous elements are hell-bent on targeting the Ahmedis”. He quoted the police as even saying that the kidnappers of Dr Arshad had been gleaning information about him (Arshad) and his family.

Following the police officials instructions, he said, most of the community people restricted their movement and started adopting other tactics like route-changing but the worst came to pass.

Refusing to give information about the number of Ahmedi families in Faisalabad, he contended it would be injudicious to speak on any such issue amid threats of barbaric activities against them.

Earlier on March 9, some men in the guise of robbers kidnapped two boys of an Ahmedi family — Bilal, son of Iqbal, and his cousin Sheraz — from Madina Town’s Y-Block. They also bagged cash and gold ornaments and released the boys after getting Rs2.5 million ransom. It is alleged that the suspects fled with money in the presence of the police.

Sources said the CIA police arrested the kidnappers who, during preliminary investigation, confessed to having their links with the banned religious outfit. They would not share any further information with the media.

Sources said five activists, including ringleader Ansar, of the group in question had been taken into custody.

A notable of the community said the triple murder might be the act of retaliation of the arrest of some activists who carried a series of crime against Ahmedi people. He criticised the police for their negligence, though had a word of praise for the CIA officials who apprehended the criminals.

He said a police picket close to the murder scene was unusually missing on that day before which the officials had been routinely standing there. He said some police officials claimed there was a picket as usual, although many others contradicted the view.

Another member of the community, a trader of Rail Bazaar, said Arshad was former president of a market association. Regrettably, he said, the trade association neither went on strike nor did it utter a word of condemnation. He said some trade body leaders believed any reaction to the issue would be given a false colouring.

He said the community was being targeted by some elements for the last couple of years; two years ago, the children of about two dozen families were shown the door of the Punjab Medical College (PMC) on blasphemy charges. On June 5, 2008, twenty-three students of the PMC were charged with tearing a poster inscribed with religious precepts pasted at the college hostel.

Yet another member of the community said a sense of insecurity had disturbed them, particularly the businessmen. The families under threat were contemplating migration to places that could provide them a better living, he said.

He said a delegation of Ahmedis called on Regional Police Officer Muhammad Tahir a couple of days ago and conveyed their concerns to him. The RPO, he said, placated them by saying that the law enforcers were making efforts to net the criminals. http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/national/a-community-harried-by-threats-440

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