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Govt blamed for Ashura violence

November 17, 2013
Rescuers and Security personnel gather in front of Madina Market which was burnt during clashes in Rawalpindi on 10th Muharram.— Photo by Online
Rescuers and Security personnel gather in front of Madina Market which was burnt during clashes in Rawalpindi on 10th Muharram.— Photo by Online

RAWALPINDI: A report prepared by intelligence agencies blamed the provincial government and its law enforcement agencies for the Ashura violence in the city on Friday.

The report sent to Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif pointed out that Madressah Taleemul Quran situated on the main Ashura procession route had been declared “highly sensitive” under the Muharram security plan.

However, the seminary and the mosque were not provided with an adequate security.

The report said the district administration and police authorities arrived at the scene only after the violence had erupted and a nearby market set on fire.

Even no one from the peace committee accompanied the Ashura procession. The committee, comprising ulema from different schools of thought, was supposed to be present on such occasions to ensure peace.

Over 100 people, including 19 prominent religious personalities from both the communities, were named in the FIR registered by the police under the Anti-Terrorism Act, said the report. However, no arrests have so far been made.

The report’s account of how the trouble erupted did not differ from that of police officials and eyewitnesses. All agreed that the trouble started when Qari Shakir, who led the prayers at the mosque, began delivering a speech through the loudspeaker at around 1.30pm.

The local administration had banned the use of loudspeakers except for azaan and khutba in Arabic in worship places, but no one stopped the cleric from suing the loudspeaker even though the police were present on the spot.

The intelligence report added that the violence could have been averted had the ban been enforced by the district administration and the police.

The report claimed that the speech provoked participants of the procession who started pelting the seminary with stones.

In reply, the students also threw stones on the participants of the procession from inside the building. However, some eyewitnesses contradicted this account of the report.

“At that time, Maulana Ashraf Ali, Qari Shakir, Maulana Amanullah (vice Khateeb), Maulana Maqsood Usmani, Tanveer Alam from Sadiqabad, Abdul Rasheed, Qari Sanaullah from Madni Masjid…, Qari Nisar Ahmed from Awan Colony and prominent leaders of Sipah-i-Sahaba and 150 to 200 other worshippers were present in the mosque,” the report said.

“Shaukat Jaffari, Bashir Zaidi, Zaighum Abbas, Chaman Shah, Amjad Hussain, Nazar Hussain, Tahir Abbas Kazmi, H.M. Zaidi and Nazar Hussain of Aryia Mohallah, along with Syed Mehdi, Alam Dar Hussain and Ishfaq Wahdi allegedly provoked the participants of the procession.”

There were a large number of youngsters from Parachinar and Baltistan in the procession who stormed the madressah.

The fact that most of those killed in the violence belonged to other cities also gave credence to the report that the outsiders were mostly responsible for the violence.

The deceased included Rehmat Shah from Batagram, Tariq Mehmood from Khushab, Habibur Rehman from Murree, Shakirullah from Swabi, Mohammad Anwar and Tariq Mehmood from Bagh. Three others who were killed during the violence remain unidentified.

A case was registered with the Gunjmandi police on the complaint of Mohammad Ilyas, a police sub-inspector.