On June 5, a funeral procession of an Ahmadi woman in Safdarabad, Punjab, was attacked on its way to the cemetery by a local mob led by right-wing Muslim clerics. The mob opposed the idea of having an Ahmadi person being buried near a Muslim graveyard.
Complete impunity for clerics & mob that attacked funeral of Ahmadi woman in Safdarabad, Sheikhapura, despite FIR.
But punishment for Ahmadis that were attacked.
This is dehumanisation. This is genocide. This is apartheid.
We must not shy from calling a spade a spade at home. https://t.co/5h76GD1wRC
— Usama Khilji (@UsamaKhilji) June 9, 2021
As the Ahmadis entered the cemetery, they were pelted with stones and beaten up with sticks. However, the Ahmadis stood their ground and completed the burial.
The incident first came to light when a video capturing the whole incident went viral on social media. It prompted a heated reaction from both sides, with radical clerics siding with the mob and several citizens and public figures demanded justice for the attendees.
A radical cleric, Ibtisam Elahi Zaheer, met with the district police officials and set out three conditions regarding their actions. He later released a video to announce that the administration had accepted the conditions, which include - no legal action against Muslim attackers, instead, legal action will be taken against Ahmadis, and in the future, no Ahmadi will be buried in the local graveyard.
On the other hand, celebrities took to Twitter to condemn the incident. These include tweets from Pakistani actor Osman Khalid Butt and Pukhtun activist Usama Khilji.
..including Pakistan, where we won't even let the Ahmadi community bury their dead. https://t.co/EaRI242cEc
— Osman Khalid Butt (@aClockworkObi) June 8, 2021
Pakistani-American writer and former politician Farahnaz Ispahani tweeted, "Not allowed to live in peace and not even allowed to be buried with dignity. #ahmadi persecution in #Pakistan"
Aamir Mehmood — Jamaat-e-Ahmadiya, Pakistan press secretary — explained "The area is formally called Chak 79, Nawakot and is home to some 30 Ahmadiya households. The issue with the graveyard has persisted for quite some time now. The Safdarabad locality has only one graveyard. A line has been etched to demarcate the two. But this is not the first time such an incident has occurred. Some time ago, the Muslim locals of the area with the backing of the district administration desecrated Ahmadi graves by taking down gravestones of several graves."
He continues, "This was not a spontaneous event. It felt planned because proper announcements were made from nearby mosques asking Muslims to gather in the area and stop the funeral procession."
Days of tension between the two groups rose over the incident. Some people even resorted to aerial firing. Eventually, on June 9, negotiations involving religious leaders from both sides and the Sheikhupura deputy commissioner and district police were held.
Wajid Abbas — the spokesperson for the Sheikhupura district police — issued a statement saying, "legal action will be taken against the people who took the law into their hands by brandishing weapons." In addition, members of the Ahmadi community would bury their deceased in pre-determined sites as per the agreement.
He also said that there was no desecration of graves in the incident reported on social media and that the two sides had reached an agreement.
Azhar Mashwani, the Punjab Chief Minister's focal person for digital media, acknowledged the incident in a tweet and declared that the "district administration had reached the scene of the incident almost instantly and that the long-standing issue of the graveyard dispute between the two communities had been resolved."
Mehmood disagreed with the assertion, stating "Attacks against the Ahmadiyya Jamaat have become a routine occurrence. The other citizens of the country must realize that this will not stop with the Ahmadiya community. In time this extremism will become an immediate issue for all Pakistanis."
Last year saw a surge in the number of attacks against the Ahmadis in Pakistan.
Under Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims in Pakistan through a constitutional amendment passed on September 7, 1974. Later, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq made it a punishable offense for Ahmadis to call themselves Muslim or refer to their faith as Islam.