South Asia

Pakistan Ahmadi man forcibly exhumed in Lahore

An injured man during an attack on an Ahmadi mosque in May 2010
Ahmadis are despised by many Pakistanis

Police in Pakistan have forced a family of the Ahmadi sect to exhume the body of a relative because it was buried in a Muslim graveyard.

Officials in the Sargodha district of Punjab province say they took the unusual move after anti-Ahmadi Muslim groups threatened peace in the area.

Ahmadis consider themselves Muslims but a 1984 law barred them from identifying themselves as followers of the faith.

The law also put restrictions on their religious practices.

'Law and order situation'

Shehzad Waraich, a farmer in the Bhalwal area of Sargodha district, died on 30 October and was buried in a shared graveyard designated by the government.

"The police approached the relatives of Mr Waraich on 31 October and asked them to remove the body from the Muslim graveyard as this could lead to a law and order situation," Salimuddin, an Ahmadi community spokesman, told the BBC.

"The family complied with the request and exhumed the body. They have now buried it in a different graveyard reserved for the Ahmadis several miles away from the village."

The police said the family was asked to exhume the body because the burial was "illegal".

"They buried Mr Waraich in a Muslim graveyard, which is against the law," Javed Islam, the Sargodha district police chief, told the BBC.

"Members of the Khatm-e-Nabuwat organisation and some local people approached the police and conveyed their objection to the burial. The objection was within the ambit of the law, so we acted accordingly," he said.

Khatm-e-Nabuwat is an anti-Ahmadi religious organisation that acts as a watchdog on their activities.

Mr Islam said that he was not concerned about the moral aspect of the exhumation of Mr Waraich's body - his job was to enforce the law.

Ahmadis in Pakistan are often mobbed and lynched by extremist elements who critics say are encouraged by favourable laws.

The Ahmadi spokesman, Salimuddin, said it was the 30th incident since 1984 in which an Ahmadi body has been forcefully exhumed by the administration to satisfy the opponents of the community.

"The administration always sides with our opponents, and has a convenient argument that they are trying to maintain peace," he said.

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