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Families stage sit-in against arrest of relatives

December 18, 2013

RAWALPINDI: Scores of people on Tuesday staged a sit-in on Benazir Bhutto Road against the disappearance of their loved ones in the wake of the Ashura tragedy in the city on November 15.

The protesters took out rallies from Naya Mohallah, Islampura and Arya Mohallah and reached Committee Chowk. They were holding placards and banners inscribed with slogans against law enforcement agencies for conducting midnight raids at their houses and “picking their innocent children in connection with the Ashura incident.” They also blocked Benazir Bhutto Road causing traffic snarl-up in the area.

The protesters alleged that about 150 to 170 people had gone missing from the Naya Mohallah, Islampura and Arya Mohallah after the sectarian clash at Darul Uloom Taleemul Quran.

They said five more people were picked in connection with the violence on Monday night, sparking panic among the residents of the localities.

The relatives demanded that the whereabouts of their loved ones should be disclosed. They also demanded an investigation into the issue and action against the culprits instead of “jailing innocent children aged 14 to 16 years old.”However, the police claimed that no innocent person had been arrested except those who were identified through video footages of the violence and the Nadra records.

The police said the five people were arrested for their alleged involvement in torching Imambargah Col Maqbool Hussain on November 15.

The detainees were identified as Hazrat Gul, his son Shah Khalid, Hamza, son of Wahid Hussain, Mubashir and Imran Ijaz. All have been shifted to an undisclosed location for interrogation.

PTI leader Ijaz Khan Jazzi and others told the media that the families were extremely worried about their loved ones.

“We want to know whether they are dead or alive,” said Nazish Bibi, one of the protesters. She said the police were neither telling the families about the whereabouts of the arrested people nor releasing them.

SSP (operation) Mian Maqbool assured the families that their relatives would be released if they were found innocent. “If somebody is found guilty of throwing stones on someone, he would be punished.”

Talking to the media, the SSP confirmed the arrest of the five people during a raid on Monday night. He said the arrests were made in connection with the attack on the Imambargah Col Maqbool Hussain on November 15. He claimed that not a single person had been picked without solid evidence.