ISLAMABAD, March 27: It may be the 'high security' capital of a country grappling with terrorism that is chock-a-block with police, rangers and check posts but Islamabad and its security apparatus proved no match for two banned leaders.
For six hours, Maulana Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, leader of the banned outfit Ahl-i-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) and Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed played a game of cat and mouse with the Islamabad police on Tuesday.
They appeared and disappeared; were stopped and freed; intercepted in their cars and protected by their armed guards, as crowds gathered to watch the spectacle and traffic jams ensued.
Eventually the harassed, red-faced and embarrassed policemen managed to hold Maulana Ludhianvi, only after negotiations and while Saeed escaped.
He was shifted to Industrial area police station and registered a case under PPC section 188 on the complaint of a police officer. Within minutes, however, the city administration granted him bail.
At this point interior minister Rehman Malik intervened and blocked his bail orders.
Maulana Ludhianvi was not released till the filing of this report.
He, along with Hafiz Saeed, had appeared at Parade Ground, defying a ban on their entry into Islamabad, to participate in a protest and sit-in organised by Defaa-i-Pakistan Council (DFC) against the government’s presumed move to restore Nato supplies.He somehow got information that the capital police and administration were going to arrest them, after which both the leaders disappeared from the Parade Ground. Later Maulana Ludhianvi was spotted at the camp of missing persons’ families while delivering speech.
Secretariat Police SHO, however, intercepted him and held him while he was leaving the camp by saying that “the police are arresting you in connection with the case registered with Margalla police station.” But Maulana Ludhianvi demanded his arrest warrant.
As the police failed to produce the arrest warrant, the activists of ASWJ took their leader away in a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV).
This led to alerting of the patrolling officers and policemen deployed at the checkpoints. They were asked to check each and every vehicle.
Besides, the police also blocked the slipways and attached roads of main arteries to intercept and arrest Maulana Ludhianvi.
As a result, hundreds of vehicles were stuck up in the worst traffic jam making miles long queues on I.J. Principal Road, Expressway, Islamabad Highway and Ninth Avenue.
At around 6pm, the vehicle of Maulana Ludhianvi was spotted in the traffic jam on the Ninth Avenue near Industrial Area police station while heading towards Rawalpindi. In response, the police placed blocks and parked their vehicles on the avenue.
All the SHOs, sub-divisional police officers, superintendents of police, were called at the Ninth Avenue along with contingent of Anti-Terrorism Squad, Anti-Riot Unit and police reserves to intercept and arrest the Maulana.
The guards of Maulana Ludhianvi – Punjab Police commandoes – aimed their weapons at the capital police and the officers while the activists cordoned their leader’s vehicle to avoid his arrest.
Later the activists of ASWJ removed the blocks from the road and made the way for their leader. However, the driver of Superintendent of Police City Circle chased the SUV and intercepted it on I.J. Principal Road.
Maulana Ludhianvi again demanded his arrest warrant, but neither the police nor any assistant commissioner or magistrate issued it. Later politician Ijazul Haq, ASWJ’s leader Fazaur Rehman Khalil and Abdullah Gul, son of Hamid Gul, also reached the spot for negotiation.
In the meantime, Deputy Commissioner Amir Ahmed Ali also reached and thorough negotiations were held between the DC, SSP Yousuf, Mr Haq, Maulana Khalil and Abdullah Gul. After half an hour negotiation Mr Haq, Maulana Khalil and Mr Gul returned to take Maulana Ludhianvi to police station.
Before leaving the spot Maulana Ludhianvi addressed the activists and asked them to remain there. Till the filling of the report, negotiations were still in progress in the police station.