1953 Lahore riots

The Lahore riots of 1953 were a series of violent riots against the Ahmadiyya Movement, a faith marginalized in Pakistan, mainly in the city of Lahore, Pakistan as well as the rest of Punjab, which were eventually quelled by the Pakistan Army who declared three months of martial law.[1] The demonstrations began in February 1953, soon escalating into citywide incidents, including looting, arson and the murder of somewhere between 200[1] to 2000 people,[2] while thousands more were left displaced. According to the official inquiry conducted by the Punjab Government the actual number killed in these riots were around 20 people. The page one of the inquiry says "Before the declaration of Martial Law, the police had to resort to firing in several places and at least two persons were killed on the night of 4th March and ten on 5th March, Sixty-six persons more must have been injured in the firing because that number of wounded persons admitted to the Lahore hospitals had gunshot wounds. The number of casualties admitted by the military to have been caused in quelling the disturbances in Lahore was eleven killed and forty-nine wounded. In some other towns also there were a number of casualties caused by firing by the police or the military.".[3] Official Unable to contain the increasingly widespread civil disorder, Governor-General Ghulam Muhammad handed over the administration of the city to the army under Lieutenant General Azam Khan, imposing martial law on 6 March.

Lahore riots of 1953
Badshahi Mosque July 1 2005 pic32 by Ali Imran (1).jpg
Badshahi Mosque, Lahore
Date1 February 1953 – 14 May 1953

Decisive military suppression of riots

 Pakistan Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam Majlis-e-Tahaffuz-e-Khatme Nabuwwat
Commanders and leaders
Flag of the Pakistan Army Azam Khan
Flag of the Pakistan Army Rahimuddin Khan
Syed Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari
Mohammad Abdul Ghafoor Hazarvi
Syed Faiz-ul Hassan Shah
Syed Abuzar Bukhari
Maulana Mazhar Ali Azhar
Master Taj-ud-Din Ansari
Abul Ala Maududi
Abdul Sattar Khan Niazi
Casualties and losses
between 200[1] and 2,000 Ahmadis killed[2]
3 Jawans and 1 NCO of Baloch Regiment killed in riots

One of the major controversial differences between Ahmadis and mainstream Sunni and Shia Muslims is their different interpretations of Khatam an-Nabiyyin. Mainstream Sunni and Shia Muslims are awaiting the coming of the Mahdi and the Second Coming of Jesus and reject the claims of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad whom Ahmadis believe to be the Promised Messiah and Mahdi. The Ahmadiyya Community was a vocal proponent of the Pakistan Movement and were actively engaged with the Muslim league having strong relations with many prominent Muslim Leaguers and were opposed to the Congress backed Majlis-e-Ahrar-ul-Islam.[4] After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, Ahmadis prospered and reached many high ranking Government and Military positions in Pakistan, due to an extremely high Literacy rate. They held up stay as an important political force in Pakistan, due to its support for secularism and acted as a counterbalance to Majlis-e-Ahrar-ul-Islam.[4] This group was disillusioned and disorganized after 1947 and politically isolated. Even before partition one of its primary targets was the Ahmadiyya movement. However, in 1949, the Majlis-e-Ahrar launched countrywide campaigns and protests resulting in a ban on Majlis-e-Ahrar in 1954.

Demands and culminationEdit

Disturbances began after an ultimatum was delivered to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on 21 January 1953 by a deputation of ulama representing Majlis-i Amal (council of action) constituted by an All-Pakistan Muslim Parties Convention held in Karachi from 16 to 18 January 1953. (Including Tehreek-e-Khatme Nabuwwat — under Majlis-e-Ahrar-ul-Islam) The ultimatum stated unless three demands were met:

  • Removal of Zafarullah Khan from the foreign ministry;
  • Removal of Ahmadis from top government offices;
  • Declaration of Ahmadis as non-Muslims.

... Majlis-e-Amal would resort to direct action (rast iqdum).[3]

Disturbances and aftermathEdit

The ultimatum was rejected and disturbances commenced.[3]

On 6 March martial law was declared. Two people were killed by police prior to martial law and casualties "admitted by the military" caused in "quelling the disturbances in Lahore" were eleven killed and 49 wounded.[3]

Marking the military's first foray into civilian politics, the 70-day-long military deployment saw Lahore return to normalcy under Azam Khan's coherent leadership ; the Secretary General of the Awami Muslim League, Maulana Abdul Sattar Khan Niazi, was arrested and sentenced to death, but his sentence was subsequently commuted. The riots also brought unprecedented political consequences; Ghulam Muhammad first dismissed Mian Mumtaz Daultana from the post of Chief Minister of Punjab on 24 March, allegedly for manipulating the religious element in anti-Ahmadi violence for political benefits. Next on 17 April, using his special powers under the Government of India Act 1935, Ghulam Muhammad dismissed Prime Minister, Khwaja Nazimuddin and the entire federal cabinet. Muhammad Ali Bogra (Pakistan's ambassador to the United States) replaced him. Bogra, who did not know why he was being called back, took the oath as new Prime Minister within hours of Nazimuddin's dismissal.[citation needed]

On 19 June 1953 a Court Of Inquiry was established to look into disturbances, known as the Punjab Disturbances Court Of Inquiry. The inquiry commenced on 1 July and held 117 sittings. The evidence was concluded on 23 January 1954 and arguments in the case lasted to 28 February 1954. Conclusions were formulated and the report issued 10 April 1954.[3]


  • Jan - After the convention of the All Pakistan Muslim League at Dhaka, anti-Ahmadiyya elements threatened to take direct action after 22 February 1953, if their demands were not met.
  • 1 Feb - Burial of an Ahmadi was resisted by anti-Ahmadiyya elements in Sargodha.
  • 23 Feb - Anti-Ahmadiyya riots broke out in West Pakistan specially in Punjab Province.
  • 27 Feb - Publication of Alfazal, a publication of the Ahmadiyya community, published from Lahore, was banned by the Government for one year. The vacuum was filled by the publication of Farooq. The first issue of Farooq was published on 4 March but after the second issue, it was forced to stop publication on 11 March.
  • 5 Mar - Master Manzoor Ahmed, a teacher was killed in Baghbanpura, Lahore.
  • 6 Mar - Ahmadiyya Noor Mosque, Rawalpindi was attacked and set on fire by a mob.
    • Press belonging to an Ahmadi was burnt.
  • Many shops and houses belonging to Ahmadis and the President of Jamaat Ahmadiyya, Rawalpindi were ransacked.
  • 6 Mar - Countrywide riots including torture, murder attempts and arson started against the Ahmadiyya especially in Lahore.
  • 6 Mar - Martial law was declared in Lahore[5]
  • 8 Mar - Havaldar Abdul Ghafoor and another Ahmadi perfumer were killed in Lahore.
  • 12 Mar - Additional Magistrate Jhang prohibited the Supreme Head of the Ahmadiyya Community from commenting on anti-Ahmadiyya riots and the anti-Ahmadiyya movement.
  • 1 Apr - Mirza Shareef Ahmad and Mirza Nasir Ahmad were arrested in Lahore during the riots. They were released on 28 May.
    • Superintendent of Police Jhang searched Qasre Khilafat and the central offices of Sadar Anjuman Ahmadiyya, Chenab Nagar.
    • Nazir Tableegh was arrested.
  • 7 May - Martial law authorities passed the death sentence on Maulana Abdus Sattar Niazi.
  • 11 May - Martial Law authorities passed the death sentence on Abul Ala Maududi for writing Qadyani Masla, and certain press *statements delivered in February and March.
  • 13 May - Maududi's and Niazi's death sentences were changed to life sentences.
  • 14 May - Martial law was lifted.

External linksEdit


  1. ^ a b c Ali Kadir (4 July 2014). "Parliamentary Heretization of Ahmadiyya in Pakistan". In Gladys Ganiel (ed.). Religion in Times of Crisis. Brill. p. 139. ISBN 9789004277793. Retrieved 30 October 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b Blood, Peter R., ed. (December 1996). Pakistan: A Country Study. Diane Publishing Company. p. 217. ISBN 9780788136313. Retrieved 30 October 2014. In order to rid the community of what it considered to be deviant behavior, the JI waged a campaign in 1953 against the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan that resulted in some 2,000 deaths, brought on martial law rule in Punjab, ... CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b c d e "Report of the Court of Inquiry - Introductory". The persecution.org. 10 April 1954. Retrieved 13 January 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b "Persecution of the Ahmadiyya Community in Pakistan: An Analysis Under International Law and International Relations" (PDF). Harvard Human Rights Journal. 16. September 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 March 2005. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "07 Mar 1953 - Martial Law After Lahore Riots". nla.gov.au.