Police Arrest Man Who Disrupted Religious Gathering At Sukkur Gurdwara

Police Arrest Man Who Disrupted Religious Gathering At Sukkur Gurdwara
At least five men barged into a Sikh Gurdwara located on Hussaini Road in Sukkur (on which the historic clock tower is located) when a religious gathering was underway and Kirtan was being performed.

The men, whom the Gurdwara committee members said were from the same family, complained about excessive noise, claiming that the loudspeaker used in the performance was set at a level higher than permissible under the law.

Members of the Gurdwara's committee claimed the men tried to stoke an inter-faith conflict, while the premises were also allegedly vandalised, and the devotees were threatened with dire consequences.

The Gurdwara committee subsequently lodged a complaint with the local police against the harassment. Ali Mughal, Zafar Mughal, Zain Mughal, Zubair Mughal, and Wasif Mughal were named as culprits in the complaint.

They were further accused of issuing threats and extorting money worth Rs750,000. It further alleged that Zafar took Rs100,000 as extortion money, and the latest incident took place when the community refused to pay an additional sum of Rs200,000.

The police, though, did not immediately lodge a formal complaint and released the men after a brief detention.

But later, they arrested Zafar on Friday evening. He was presented before a magistrate on Saturday, who granted police custody on physical remand for two weeks.

Police say all five have been booked under sections 147 (punishment for rioting), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of the offence committed in prosecution of common object), 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting Its religion or religious beliefs), 384 (punishment for extortion), 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The Gurdwara committee claimed that one of the suspects was opposed to the construction of the Gurdwara in the locality and had resorted to lodging several cases under false and frivolous pretexts to stop the construction of the Gurdwara.

They further claimed that the police had been banking on the Mughal family and the Gurdwara committee to reconcile their differences and settle the matter before it got to court.

Too loud?

The suspects accused the administration of the Gurdwara of using the loudspeaker at a volume louder than permitted.

Curiously, in Sindh, a local law to regulate sound systems was introduced in 2015, nearly five years after the 18th Amendment.

The law states that its purpose is:

"Preventing public nuisance and the voicing of utterances of a controversial nature likely to cause public disorder and to regulate, control and prohibit the use of certain sound systems in the Province of Sindh in the interest of the environment, public order, decency and the prevention of incitement to terrorism or the commission of any offence and to deal with ancillary matters."

Apart from regulating the use of sound systems in public and private places, it also regulates sound system use in places of worship.

Section 4(1) Subject to subsection (2), no person shall operate or use or cause to be
operated or used a sound system –

(C) In a place of worship in a manner or at a volume whereby any sound from the sound system could be heard beyond ten yards outside the boundaries of the place of worship; or

However, the law adds:

Section 4 (2) Subject to sub-section (2) of section 3, a person may use –

(a) One external sound system at a place of worship for the purpose of Azan, Arabic Khutba delivered on a Friday or on Eid,
announcement of the death of a person, lost or found a thing or a person; or

(b) external sound system at a public place and during reasonable hours with the prior permission of the Government or an officer authorised by the Government, and the use of such sound system is in accordance with the conditions mentioned in such permission.