TLP Threatens Jhelum Ahmadis To Remove Minarets, Domes From Worship Places

TLP Threatens Jhelum Ahmadis To Remove Minarets, Domes From Worship Places
A local religiopolitical group in Jhelum has threatened the local Ahmadiyya community against building minarets and domes atop their places of worship and has warned that any such structures seen standing on Muharram 10 would be demolished.

Locals have alerted that the Jhelum chapter of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) plans to stage a procession on the morning of Muharram 10 on the Finality of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) (Khatam-e-Nabuwat).

A poster for the rally states that the rally is being conducted under the leadership of TLP leaders for PP-28, Chaudhry Nazakat Ali Rizvi and Syed Chhan Pir Shah. TLP PP-28 Jhelum Chief Organiser Maulana Asim Ashfaq Rizvi could also make an appearance.

Their rally will set off from Shandar Chowk, Serai Alamgir, and will culminate at Ahmadi Centre and will demolish any minarets and mehrabs observed at any Ahmadi place of worship.

The poster listed their demands as tearing down all minarets and domes that seek to identify Ahmaddiya places of worship in the Jhelum district as Muslim places of worship.

Other demands include imposing a strict ban on activities of the Ahmadiyya Community that resemble rituals or rites of Islam.

The rally and its timing are odd because Muharram 9 and 10 are a time when security is at its highest across Pakistan. It is a moment when members of the Shia community stage processions and hold congregations to observe the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions at Karbala.

Ratcheting up tensions

The announcement of the rally comes around a week after a local TLP leader had issued threats to the police to demolish minarets on Ahmadi places of worship.

Subsequently, on the intervening night between July 14 and 15, the police, under pressure from the TLP, demolished symbolic minarets on an Ahmadi place of worship in Jhelum.

Now the extremists are going a step further and threatening to demolish the minarets of Ahmadi places of worship from other places in Jhelum as well, a local said while commenting on the poster. The local declined to be named, fearing retribution from the TLP.

He added that on Friday, Jhelum District Police Officer Nasir Bajwa held a meeting with representatives of the Ahmadiyya Community and told them that minarets built on their places of worship in localities across the district, including Kala Gujran, Mahmoodabad, Pind Dadan Khan, and Jhelum city.

READ MORE: Ahmadi Community Expresses Concern Over Nexus Between Extremists, Police

He reportedly asked the Ahmadiyya community members to demolish such minarets and erase Islamic inscriptions written there.

The locals said that some of these places of worship identified are over a hundred years old and date to a time before the creation of Pakistan.

The DPO then allegedly warned that unless these minarets were voluntarily destroyed, the police would be forced to take action.

Moreover, earlier this month, the graves of some Ahmadi elders in a local graveyard were vandalized with black ink sprayed on it and tombstones smashed.

READ MORE: Neither Living Nor Dead Ahmadis Protected In Jhelum As Graves Vandalized

Threat alert

Prior to Muharram, a threat alert issued by the Counter Terrorism Department of Punjab had outlined Jhelum as one of the most vulnerable districts in Punjab.

READ MORE: Rise In Terrorism Heightens Threats During Muharram: Report

It further warned that defunct militant groups had seen a revival in recent months and could join hands with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or Islamic State in Iraq and Levant - Khorasan Province (ISIL-KP).

HRCP concerns

Earlier this year, a report prepared by a fact-finding mission of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) had underscored an alarming uptick in the persecution of members of the Ahmadiyya community in Gujranwala and surrounding areas—specifically, the desecration of their graves, the destruction of minarets at Ahmadi sites of worship and first information reports (FIRs) filed against community members for carrying out ritual animal sacrifice on Eid.

The report found evidence that the civil administration in Gujranwala and Wazirabad were directly involved in destroying the minarets on Ahmadi sites of worship in December 2022 and January 2023, following objections raised by members of a local political-religious outfit.

According to the report, the local administration claims to have carried out the action so as to circumvent the threat of mob violence.

"While the mission understands that the local bureaucracy, police and judiciary were successfully intimidated by a religious group, their response displays a pitiful inability to manage law and order while respecting the fundamental rights of the Ahmadiyya community," the report adds.