Hundreds gathered outside Lahore’s Hafeez Centre on Monday in protest over the arrest of a man charged with spreading religious hatred under the National Action Plan (NAP).
The protesters, consisting largely of shopkeepers and traders from Hafeez Centre, gathered on Main Boulevard and chanted slogans against the arrest and registration of a case against Abid Hashmi under Section 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code and 16 of the MPO.
According to police officials, Hashmi was arrested Sunday for displaying a poster outside his computer shop banning Ahmadi customers from entering and declaring them as “infidels”.
On Saturday, a police team, led by Gulberg’s Station House Officer (SHO) Yousuf Butt had raided Hashmi’s shop and removed the poster. His arrest came a day after by the Model Town division Superintendent of Police (SP) Mustansar Feroze.
“The arrest was made under the National Action Plan (NAP) for spreading religious hatred,” Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Haider Ashraf said.
The NAP would be implemented at all costs and strict action taken against its violators, he said, adding that no one would be allowed to post any hate material against any religious group.
The move was welcomed by a spokesperson for the Ahmadi community, Amir Mehmood as the “first drop of rain”.
A photograph of the notice pasted outside Hashmi’s shop had gone viral on social media on Wednesday night, demanding the Punjab government and police officials “take action” against the “shameful” act.
The move came just two days before the first anniversary of a Taliban massacre at Peshawar’s Army Public School last year that left more than 150 people dead, mostly school children.
In November, Ahmadi families were forced to flee Jhelum after an angry mob torched a factory there, accusing the community members of burning the holy Quran.