ISLAMABAD: Many prominent religious personalities attended the funeral prayer of Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, at Liaquat Bagh on Tuesday.
Mumtaz Qadri was hanged early on Monday morning after his clemency appeal was rejected by President Mamnoon Hussain.
“The government protected terrorists and delayed their cases for several years despite the fact they killed hundreds of people but it executed Qadri in haste,” said Syed Hamid Saeed Kazmi, a former federal minister for religious affairs in ex-prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani’s cabinet, while talking to Dawn.
Mr Kazmi, who arrived in the city to attend the funeral prayers, said Mumtaz Qadri killed the former governor out of his love for the holy prophet (peace be upon him). He said the huge gathering at the funeral was enough to prove that people considered Mumtaz Qadri as a martyr.
Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee chairman Mufti Muneebur Rehman added: “The presence of such a large number of people in the funeral is a referendum against the government. The government killed Mumtaz Qadri and people rejected the government’s act. I have never seen such a big gathering in any political or religious function,” he said.
Police and the capital administration remained on their toes throughout the day on Tuesday to ensure that the funeral procession of Mumtaz Qadri passed Islamabad to Athaal village in Bhara Kahu without any hindrance. All arrangements were put in place to meet any untoward incident.
Roads along funeral procession route from Rawalpindi to Bhara Kahu in capital remained closed till evening
The funeral procession entered Islamabad from Faizabad in the afternoon. An assistant commissioner (AC) and a magistrate received the procession as per directions and accompanied it to the Athaal Chowk.
In anticipation of a law and order situation, the capital administration changed the processions route which was accepted by Qadri’s family and from Faizabad the procession moved via Park Road to Athaal village at about 4:30pm. The funeral finished at around 8:15pm, the officials said.
Roads along the procession’s route, including Murree Road, were blocked to traffic till late into the evening. Traffic was diverted to Khayaban-i-Suharwardy, Islamabad Highway and I.J. Principal Road.
Senior officials of the capital administration were deployed at 11 locations from 1pm onwards till the funeral was over.
The SSP operation was asked to draw up a security plan, deploy policewomen at different locations and ensure that necessary equipment were available.
A source said: “Sharpshooters were also stationed at selected locations and on rooftops and were put under the supervision of inspectors. The police were asked to keep an eye on suspicious individuals and vehicles,” he added.
The SSP security was told to coordinate with Rangers who were deployed as a backup for the police if the need arose, another source said.
On directives from the district administration, the assistant inspector general of police, Special Branch, stationed bomb disposal squads along the procession’s route and the officials escorting the procession remained in contact with the Special Branch.
The district administration asked SSP traffic to ensure that traffic staff was available at all diversions and to make arrangements for possible VIP movement.
Secretary Islamabad Transport Authority coordinated with Islamabad Traffic Police to ensure the smooth flow of traffic and the district health officer kept in touch with hospitals and made arrangements necessary for possible emergencies. Ambulances, paramedics and fire brigades were also deployed at Athal Chowk, Faizabad, Dhokri Chowk, Kurri Road and Nadra headquarters.
The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, Capital Hospital and the Federal Government Services Hospital were asked to remain on a high alert till March 2. Three-time more people attended the funeral of Mumtaz Qadri at Liaquat Bagh than the estimates earlier made by government agencies’ and the local police.
Inspector General of Police Punjab Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera along with an adviser to the chief minister and MPA Jehangir Khanzada arrived in the city on Tuesday morning and monitored the funerals and security arrangements until the coffin was taken to Bhara Kahu. A central control room had also been established at the office of the regional police officer (RPO) to monitor the law and order situation.
According to security sources, the Special Branch had estimated that 20,000 to 25,000 people would attend the funerals. The intelligence agencies and local police had expected around 30,000 to 35,000 people. However, a police official, who requested not to be named, claimed that around 90,000 people attended the funeral prayer.
“Had the funeral prayer been offered on Monday afternoon, the number of participants would have been less than the police and intelligence agencies were expecting,” a security official said and added that efforts by the police were made to convince the family of Qadri to complete the burial as soon as possible on Monday. He said the number of participants increased only due to the time gained by Mumtaz Qadri’s family and supporters.
Though there was no untoward incident, two police officers were beaten up and injured by a group of youngsters after they were intercepted by the police at Sadiqabad. The injured officials were treated at Benazir Bhutto Hospital and later allowed to go home.
“The emergency ward was prepared to cope with any emergency throughout the day but the city remained peaceful,” a doctor at the hospital told Dawn.
Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2016