In a fresh attack on the Ahmadi community in Pakistan, the minarets of three worship places of the minority group in different districts of Punjab province were demolished by radical Islamists who alleged that the minarets signified that of a Muslim mosque.
The incident comes more than a week after arches of a worship place of the Ahmadi community were destroyed in defiance of a high court order banning such actions against the places of worship of the minority community built before 1984.
Pakistan’s Parliament in 1974 declared the Ahmadi community as non-Muslims. They have even been banned from calling themselves Muslims.
"Identifying the minarets of Ahmadi worship places with that of Muslim Mosque, the activists of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) stormed into three Ahmadi worship places in Sheikhupura, Bahawalnagar and Bahawalpur districts of Punjab and demolished their minarets during the last couple of days," Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan official Amir Mahmood told PTI on Monday.
With these recent incidents, the number of attacks on the worship places of Ahmadis either attacked by radical Islamists or partially demolished by police in different parts of Pakistan during this year has risen to 31.
"As the TLP stormed into these three Ahmadi worship places, the police did nothing to prevent it. Ahmadis are being denied their basic rights as a citizen living in Pakistan. The agony is that police have been at the forefront of committing these acts as well," Mahmood said adding the recent decision of the Lahore High Court clearly stated that the minarets of the Ahmadi worship places built before 1984 need no alteration. "These worship places were built before 1984," he said.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said the destruction of part of Ahmadiyya sites of worship is a brazen violation of the recent Lahore High Court judgment regarding the protection of Ahmadiyya sites of worship.
The Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan said the situation is becoming worse day by day for the already marginalised Ahmadis in the country.
"Ahmadis are facing persecution at the hands of the evil elements. The acts of desecration of the places of worship in various areas of Pakistan continue unabated. It is a new norm and the authorities are doing nothing," it says.
It says the police are complicit with the extremist elements and instead of protecting the Ahmadi worship places they are demolishing them.
Ahmadis are usually referred to as Qadianis in Pakistan, which is considered a derogatory term for them. They are banned from preaching and from travelling to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage.
Although the number of Ahmadis in Pakistan is around a million, unofficial figures put their population much higher.