Lahore, Dec 3 : A group of armed men belonging to a hardline sect vandalised 120 graves at an Ahmadi cemetery and assaulted a security guard and a gravedigger in this eastern Pakistani city, members of the Ahmadi community said today.
The group of about 15 armed men, who reportedly belonged to the Deobandi sect, entered the Ahmadi graveyard at Model Town in Lahore at 10 pm yesterday and severely beat up the security guard and gravedigger.
The men, who were armed with pistols, then smashed or removed the headstones of about 120 graves before they left the cemetery.
The men told those present in the cemetery that Ahmadis could not have Quranic inscriptions on their headstones as they were “not Muslims”.
The two injured men were later taken to a nearby private hospital.
Police went to the cemetery only this morning to carry out an investigation, members of the minority Ahmadi community said. However, police have not yet registered a case.
Jamaat-e-Ahmadiya spokesman Salimuddin condemned the act and said such incidents had made Ahmadis vulnerable across Pakistan. He demanded a speedy investigation of the incident and action against those responsible.
This is the third incident this year of Ahmadi graveyards being vandalised by members of hardline groups.
Earlier, cemeteries in Hafizabad and Jeranwala districts of Punjab were targeted.
Deobandi clerics are of the view that Ahmadis are non-Muslims and the headstones of their graves should not have Quranic inscriptions or Islamic prayers.
In the past, clerics removed the headstones or blackened them with paint at several places in Punjab, which is Pakistan’s most populous province.
Leaders of the Ahmadi community said a 1992 ruling by the Supreme Court had allowed them to inscribe some Quranic verses on their graves.
This year, police had removed Quranic inscriptions from several Ahmadi mosques and shops run by members of the community after receiving complaints from the public.
Pakistan’s Ahmadis consider themselves Muslim but were declared non-Muslims through a constitutional amendment in 1974.
A decade later, they were barred from proselytising or identifying themselves as Muslims. Some 1.5 million Ahmadis live across the country.