Chakwal village limping back to normalcy after attack on Ahmadi place of worship

LAHORE: After a curfew-like situation that prevailed at Chakwal’s Dulmial village for eight consecutive days in the wake of vandalising of an Ahmadi place of worship on December 12, life started returning to normal on Monday as military and police personnel eased security restrictions.

Some of the grocery shops and one of the two high schools at the village opened on Monday.

These two schools — respectively for boys and girls — had been closed after the attack, for providing accommodation to the forces. On Monday, the boys school was opened; however, the girls school remained shut as it is still being used as barracks by army troops. Hundreds of people – who were part of an Eid Miladun Nabi procession – stormed the Ahmadi place of worship at Dulmial village last week and burnt fixtures inside the premises.

At least one Ahmadi man, who was present inside the building at the time, died of cardiac arrest, whereas the protesters claimed that six of their fellows were also injured in the cross firing. One of the injured later succumbed to his injuries.

More than 50 residents of the village, accused of attacking the worship place, were rounded up after the incident. Two Ahmadis were arrested on charges of killing the protester.

According to villager Syed Sibtul Hasan Shah life started returning to normal after the district administration assured residents that no one other than those nominated for attacking the worship place would be arrested. Most of the male residents of the village, including both Ahmadis and Muslims, had fled their houses fearing arrests after the contingents of rangers, army and police were deployed for round-the-clock vigilance at the village.

Shah said that after the December 12 incident, police and military men started indiscriminate arrests, causing panic and fleeing of male residents from the area.

He said Chakwal DCO Mehmood Javed Bhatti and DPO Munir Masood Marath visited Dulmial on Friday and met with villagers. They assured them of no more arrests and asked them to bring back their relatives.

The DCO also went to the neighbouring Tatral village, where he attended the Quran Khawani for Naeem Shafique, who died in the Dec 12 violence. The DCO also gave Rs100,000 to the family of the deceased.

Shah said he hoped all shops would be opened at Dulmial on Tuesday [today]. However, he said, the troublespot — Ahmadi worship place — was still locked.

Talking to The Express Tribune, the DCO said it was necessary to restrict the movement in order to normalise the situation. Sharing stats about the area, the DCO said Dulmial, which is situated at a distance of 8 kilometers from Tehsil headquarters Choa Saiden Shah of district Chakwal, has a population of 11,624 people of which 5,300 are male and 6,300 are female.

He said the total registered votes at this village are 5,000. He said 9,000 people of the area are Hanafi, 250 belong to Shia sect while the number of Ahmadis is 650. “Most of the Ahamdis have migrated from the village. The village has 90 houses of Ahmadi families,” he said.

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