Lahore: In another incident targeting the minority Ahmadi sect in Pakistan, police in Punjab province removed plaques with Quranic verses from graves at a community following a complaint from clerics.
Policemen vandalised 23 graves at the cemetery in Faisalbad district, 80 km from the Punjab capital of Lahore, by smashing the plaques, spokesman for leading Ahmadi body Jamat-e-Ahmadiya Pakistan, Salimuddin, said.
This was the second such incident in three weeks.
Punjab Police earlier vandalised another Ahmadi cemetery in Hafizabad district, 90 km from Lahore, by using black paint to cover Quranic verses on 64 graves.
According to Salimuddin, police in Faisalabad smashed or removed the plaques of 23 graves in Jeranwala sub-division following a request from local clerics.
He said police called local Ahmadis and "ordered" them to remove the plaques inscribed with Quranic verses as they were "hurting" the emotions of Muslims.
"We told them it was a sin to remove the plaques, and if you want to do it, do it yourself," Salimuddin said.
He said it was "very unfortunate" that the administration was playing into the hands of anti-Ahmadi elements.
Salimuddin said a 1992 ruling by the Supreme Court had allowed Ahmadis to inscribe some Quranic verses on their graves.
"Police are even violating the apex court`s order," he said.
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 in Pakistan.
Some 1.5 million Ahmadis live across the country.
Police in Punjab have taken action against several Ahmadi mosques this year.
They demolished the minarets of an Ahmadi mosque at Kharian city, 200 km from Lahore, last month.
In March, couplets from the Quran written on tiles at an Ahmadi mosque at Sultanpura in Lahore were removed by police.