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Dozens of people gathered outside Lahore's Hafeez Center protesting the arrest of a shopkeeper for putting up an anti-Ahmadi poster on Monday. –Photo courtesy Jibran Nasir Facebook
Dozens of people gathered outside Lahore's Hafeez Center protesting the arrest of a shopkeeper for putting up an anti-Ahmadi poster on Monday. –Photo courtesy Jibran Nasir Facebook

LAHORE: Hundreds gathered outside Lahore's Hafeez Center on Monday, protesting police's arrest of a shopkeeper for putting up an anti-Ahmadi poster.

The protesters consisted largely of shopkeepers from Hafeez Center, Lahore's largest electronic marketplace. They gathered on Main Boulevard opposite the center, holding placards and chanting slogans against the arrest of shopkeeper Abid Hashmi and the filing of a case against him.

On Sunday, Gulberg police arrested Hashmi for putting up a notice declaring Ahmadis “infidels” and banning their entry into his shop.

According to a news release, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Dr Haider Ashraf took notice of the pasting and directed the Model Town Division Superintendent of Police (SP) Mustansar Feroze to arrest the suspect.

On Saturday, a police team led by Gulberg Station House Officer (SHO) Yousuf Butt had conducted a raid on the shop and removed the poster. Hashmi was arrested Sunday and a case was registered against him under sections 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code and 16 of the MPO.

The DIG said the National Action Plan (NAP) would be implemented at all costs and strict action taken against violators. He said no one would be allowed to post any hate material against any religious group.

The issue was brought to the DIG’s attention by people concerned with the contents of the poster. Under the NAP, police officials were directed to take action against any reported instances of hate speech and crime.

On Wednesday night, a photograph of the notice pasted outside the Hafeez Centre shop had gone viral on social media, demanding that the Punjab government and city officials "take action" against the "shameful" poster.

Also read: Police take down offensive anti-minority poster in Lahore after outrage