Qadian, which ones witnessed the insurgency in 1983 despite one of the historic places across the globe as the headquarter of Ahmadiyya Muslim community in the small town in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district has now returned to peace with people of every religion living with brotherhood and harmony.
Near the Shivala Chowk of the town lies the Badi Masjid, a temple and two gurdwaras standing tall adjacent to each other giving a clear message of India’s ‘Unity in Diversity’ and its secular fabric.
Located just 28 kms away from the district headquarters of Gurdaspur, the small town keeps on bustling with activities. The assembly elections have also added fervor to the town as one can find posters and Billboards of all political parties wooing their voters.
As the team of The New Indian stopped by Noor Hospital, run by the Ahmadiyya Community, one can easily see the people going in there for treatment but locals want much better health facilities in the town as in case of major problem they have to take their patients either to Amritsar or to Pathankot, both almost 60 kms away.
At Shivala Chowk one can find a small stone memorial built there in memory of the 1983 insurgency attack. This was the place in Qadian where an attack had taken place in which several people had lost their lives while leaving many injured.
While walking through the narrow lanes of Qadian to reach Shivala Chowk that is home to several shops including garments, jewellers, general store, hardware etc one can find two family members who were also injured in the 1983, insurgency attack.
Speaking to The New Indian, Kewal Krishna Gupta, who along with his father was injured in the attack, showed us the injury marks on his right hand but refuses to speak of the incident that happened almost 39 years ago. He along with his father were attacked while they were returning after closing their shops.
Talking about the issues for the 2022 assembly polls, he said that there are many issues but we want that industries should come and people get employment. “There is no focus of the government on Qadian despite being one of the prominent places of the Ahmediyya community which is known worldwide. So we want this town to get its due and develop more. And we want that employment should come,” Gupta said, who also runs a shop named Gupta store along with his son.
Gupta also said that health facilities are not enough for the people of Qadian. We need a big hospital over here for proper treatment.
When asked about the mosque, temple and gurudwara situated in a row, He said: “Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs all live together peacefully and people participate in every festival. Even the Ahmediyya community of Muslims gives a message of peace and also respects all religions. They also invite locals in their festivals to celebrate altogether.”
Pawan Kumar, who was one of the victims of the 1983 militancy attack in Qadian’s Shivala chowk area said, “The issues of inflation are there, health, education should be prioritized and these are all general issues.”When asked if he feels that peace has returned to Qadian, Kumar said, “Law and order condition is very good here. If someone has to go out late in the evening then they can go out easily.”
Gaurav, also a resident of Shivala Chowk area said, “Major issues in this election are demands for good hospitals and education. People have to take their patients 50 to 60 km away for treatment. There are no good schools or colleges. Besides that there is a problem with dumping garbage.”
When asked why Qadian is home to many religions, he said, “This is a peaceful place and people are very friendly. And the elections are fought here on local needs and people vote for development. There is no issue of any communal disharmony over here and they all live together peacefully.”
He pointed out that during the time of insurgency in Punjab, it was spread across all over the state and same was the case with Qadian. However, he refuses to speak on the 1983 attack and said, “The insurgency attack happened some 40 years ago but I cannot comment on the same.”
Sukhchain Singh another resident of Qadian said that he feels that there is a direct triangular fight between Congress, Shiromani Akali Dal and the AAP. “But I feel that AAP has an edge over all other parties,” Singh said. He also said that the condition after the insurgency attack in 1983 is very different now and people live together with brotherhood.
He also talked about drug menace in the state and said, “The government must work to eradicate drug menace as many families are having troubles due to the same.”
Meanwhile, Kunal Bhatia son of Kumar said, “Besides 1983 first insurgency attack in Qadian, things have changed as compared to then.” He said that there were some differences which caused violence 40 years ago. “The people in Punjab are cooperative and unity has been there. In elections, there are people from all communities, who are contesting elections and there is no more differences among the people,” Bhatia said. “The environment here is peaceful. Whatever the bad times were there have now passed,” he added.
While walking through the narrow lanes we reached Badi Masjid of the Ahmediyya community, which has a gated society.
The people from the community have maintained the ancestral house of their first messiah Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who founded the Ahmediyya community in 1889.
The Ahmediyya community has a population of about 6,000 in Qadian. But many of the people from the community refused to speak.
Majid, who handles the media department of the Ahmediyya community said, “Qadiyan is the global headquarters of Ahamdiya Muslim Jamat since 18th century. It was during the partition of India and Pakistan that nearly 300 families arrived here from Pakistan with a sole motive to preserve the Muslim Monuments here. They were called as “Darvesh”.
He said that now all generations of these 300 families are serving the global headquarters here. Majid, one of the office bearers at these headquarters, said that they are not allowed to give any public statements without permission of their board.
The population of Muslim community is around 6,000 but community is tight lipped over the elections in Punjab due to strict orders of their religeous heads.
Noor Hospital is one of the landmark contributions for public welfare from this Jamat. It has been serving Qadian for the last 103 years. This place holds special significance for the Ahmadiyya community as the first head of this Jamat was buried here at Badi Masjid after he died in May 1908. Ahmadiyya Community members say that their sole aim is to remind real meaning of Islam as per the Holy Quran. This is one of the 73 sects of Islam but most of the Muslim communities don’t recognise them as Muslims, said Majid.