Lahore, Jan 24 (PTI) In the latest case of persecution against the minority Ahmadis in Pakistan, an elderly woman belonging to the community was allegedly denied burial at a graveyard by a local cleric in the Punjab province of the country.
The incident occurred on Sunday in the Sialkot district of Punjab, some 100 km from Lahore.
A 75-year-old Ahmadi woman who died on January 22 was not allowed to be buried at a graveyard in Sialkot, Jamaat Ahmadiyya Punjab official Amir Mahmood told PTI on Tuesday.
Mahmood said a local cleric and his followers stopped the woman’s family from burying her there, citing that adjacent is a Muslim graveyard.
“They said the Ahmadi graveyard is ‘shut down’ and the community can no longer bury its dead. The religious zealots chased the family out of the graveyard and warned the community of serious consequences if it dared to bring its dead in this graveyard,” he said.
The Pakistani government does not consider Ahmadis to be Muslims, and the Ahmadis are not allowed to call themselves Muslims in Pakistan by a law passed in 1974
Mahmood added that the woman’s family had to carry the body to Rabwa, some 250kms away, to bury her in an Ahmadi graveyard.
In another incident, some religious extremists allegedly desecrated several Ahmadi community graves on Tuesday in Faisalabad, some 130 km from Lahore.
According to Mahmood, some miscreants trespassed the Ahmadi graveyard by cutting the barbed wires and vandalising the graves.
He said the incident was reported to the police, but they did not register an FIR.
“Time and again, Ahmadi graves are desecrated with or without the assistance of the police with complete impunity to the culprits. It is disheartening to observe such disregard for the community’s fundamental rights,” Mahmood said.
Earlier, several graves of the Ahmadi community were desecrated by unknown religious extremists in the Hafizabad district of Punjab, some 100 km from Lahore. The graves had also been vandalised.
In the past, such incidents occurred in other Ahmadi graveyards in Punjab, but not a single culprit was arrested or put on trial.
Minorities, especially Ahmadis, are very vulnerable in Pakistan and they are often targeted by religious extremists.