Cleric on watch list leads protesters in Islamabad

protestors in islamabad

GUJRAT: One of the main leaders of protesters at Islamabad’s D-Chowk has been on the Fourth Schedule of Anti-Terrorism Act for over a year, yet he made his way to the capital unhindered.

The government’s alleged leniency towards Pir Muhammad Afzal Qadri, the chief of Aalmi Tanzeem Ahle Sunnat, over the years has often put the authorities in a tough situation. Even when he was en route to participate in the chehlum of assassin Mumtaz Qadri local law enforcement authorities did not stop him from marching on Islamabad along with his outfit’s activists.

Sources in the district government and police said there were no particular directions issued by the provincial government regarding Qadri and his group’s plans to participate in the chehlum in Rawalpindi. This was why local authorities did not stop him, they added.

They further said around two months ago authorities had besieged Qadri’s residence and seminary in Mararrian village and stopped him from marching on Lahore to allegedly press the government against executing Mumtaz Qadri.

Talking to Dawn, a senior police official claimed at the time of besieging the seminary and house, police were about to arrest Qadri but provincial authorities ordered them against it at the eleventh hour citing the cleric’s poor health.

Meanwhile, some Afzal Qadri’s followers and supporters blocked GT Road at Lalamusa on Tuesday evening to press the government to enter into a dialogue with protest leaders in Islamabad’s D Chowk.

Gujrat DCO and DPO reached the site to persuade the protesters to lift the blockade.

ARRESTS: Around a dozen hardcore activists of different sectarian outfits, mainly belonging to Brelvi school of thought, have been detained by the law enforcement agencies (LEAs) during targeted operations in various parts of the district. Two of the arrested are already among the list of fourth schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).

Official sources told Dawn that eight of the suspects were arrested from areas of Kakrali and Gulliana police precincts of Kharian tehsil. These police limits are known for having presence of a good number of sectarian activists.

Gujranwala Regional Police Officer Muhammad Tahir had also paid a visit to the Kakrali and Daulat Nagar police stations on Monday.

Gujrat DPO Rae Zameerul Haq confirmed the arrest of only three suspects, including two of the fourth schedulers, Safdar Shakir and Naveed Tahir, and said that they were being sent to jail under section 3 of Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) for at least two months as per the government orders.

Asked whether the other fourth schedulers in the district were being chased for arrest, he said that the government had passed the direction in this regard which would be implemented in letter and spirit as hardcore sectarian figures were already being monitored by the LEAs.


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