Dawn: TWO policemen stand guard over the charred remains of Boota’s house in a narrow alley of Arafat Colony off Racecourse Road in Gujranwala. They were deployed there on Monday to protect the ashes. For further security, the police have locked up the house, inside which may lie evidence against the ‘unidentified’ rioters who had set it ablaze on Sunday night. The attack was part of the anti-Ahmadi violence that broke out in the neighbourhood over an alleged blasphemous Facebook post by an 18-year-old Ahmadi boy.
Jamaat-i-Ahmadiyya leaders in Gujranwala say that the police didn’t budge when a 3,000-strong mob vandalised and burnt homes belonging to their community. “The police were there. They didn’t do anything to stop the attackers. They let them have their way. Our homes were plundered and burnt, our people abused, beaten and killed,” said Munawar Ahmed Nasir, a Jamaat leader. He described the events as the worst anti-Ahmadi attacks in the city since 1974.
“Instead of controlling the mob, the police turned back the fire brigade and ambulances,” he added.
Boota lost much more than his house and belongings in that fire; his mother and two daughters died of suffocation while his sister miscarried. “It is very sad that the woman and her granddaughters lost their lives in the attack. It [the Facebook post] wasn’t their fault; they were punished for someone else’s sin,” said one of the two policemen.
Boota’s was one of the five Ahmadi houses burnt down by the attackers who had begun gathering when the word spread that the alleged blasphemous picture had been shared by the 18-year-old suspect. Several other Ahmadi houses and their shops in the area were vandalised and looted in the attacks that began soon after Iftar.
“A police party headed by Peoples’ Colony police station in-charge Malik Asghar reached there by 9pm. Instead of controlling the attackers, who were quite small in number in the beginning, the SHO tried to placate them by offering to register a case against the suspect. His offer didn’t satisfy the bloodthirsty hounds and their number continued to swell as workers of a religious party also joined them,” alleged a young Jamaat-i-Ahmadiyya leader.