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CHAKWAL: The banned Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) is going to hold a religious conference on January 4 in connection with Rabi-ul-Awwal 12 in Dhok Aajri village located at Chakwal-Choa Saidan Shah Road.

Dhok Aajri is the native village of Qari Asad Irfan, the district president of ASWJ who is also included in 4th Schedule of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.

Any person involved in sectarian violence or militancy/terrorism is placed in this schedule.

According to the law any person placed in 4th schedule is neither allowed to leave his district without getting permission from police nor can organise any religious ceremony.

But Qari Asad Irfan is not only organising a religious conference in his village but will also chair the gathering.

Banners of the event have been displayed at busy squares of the city. A banner fixed at Tehsil Chowk, close to the City Police Station and office of the Assistant Commissioner, states that Maulana Aurangzeb Farooqi, the central president of ASWJ, would be the chief guest at the conference.

The conference would be chaired by Qari Asad Irfan, the district president of ASWJ.

ASWJ, a reincarnation of banned Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), had been banned since February 15, 2012.

In Chakwal, it issues regular press releases which are published in local newspapers while the local politicians of PML-N had won its support during the last general elections.

An official of the Punjab police on the condition of anonymity said: “Holding a religious conference is not something illegal but persons placed in 4th schedule of ATA could not be its organisers,” the official added.

When contacted, an official of Counterterrorism Department said they had taken photographs of the banners installed by ASWJ and sent a report to the authorities concerned.

“ASWJ is banned and it cannot operate openly,” the official said.

When the attention of City Police SHO Zaraat Baloch was drawn to the matter he came up with this strange reply, “Only SSP is banned not the ASWJ.”

Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2015

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