RAWALPINDI: Thous­ands of people from Rawalpindi and nearby towns turned out at Liaquat Bagh ground on Tuesday to participate in the funeral prayers of Mumtaz Qadri amidst tight security.

Qadri was hanged the previous day in accordance with the verdict of the Supreme Court, which had found him guilty of assassinating Pun­jab’s then governor Salmaan Taseer five years ago.

Large parts of Islamabad and Rawalpindi were shut as a precautionary measure or out of fear.

The workers of Sunni Tehreek and Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat were posted around the stage at Liaquat Bagh instead of local police and law enforcement agencies.

Strangely enough, the law enforcement agencies were not allowed to enter the Liaquat Bagh and surrounding roads leading to the ground. Police were limited to rooftops of buildings and at the places where they closed the roads with containers.

Youngsters belonging to religious parties were seen carrying bamboo sticks. They wore armbands inscribed with the picture of Mumtaz Qadri. However, no untoward situation took place in the area.

Qadri’s body was brought in an ambulance by hundreds of his supporters.

Lengthy speeches by some of the participants held up the funeral for two hours. It finally went ahead at 3.45pm.

Pir Syed Hasseen-un-din Shah of Golra Sharif led the funeral prayer.

Mumtaz Qadri was buried in Athaal village of Islamabad’s Bhara Kahu area.

The participants chanted slogans against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the government.

The speakers urged the participants to remain peaceful and disperse after the prayer.

In their speeches, the speakers lashed out at the government for execution of Qadri.

Other speakers were of the view that all schools of thought were united on the issue and called the execution unjustified. 

Mumtaz Qadri, who was one of the police guards deputed to protect Governor Taseer, used his official weapon to shoot him dead in Islamabad on Jan 4, 2011, as, according to him, the governor had committed blasphemy by calling for review of the controversial law.

Speakers at the funeral urged the government to start the trial in all those cases which were registered under the blasphemy act.

Meanwhile, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) has convened an “All Parties Conference” in Rawalpindi on Thursday (March 3) to chalk out a strategy against the government over the execution of Qadri.

“We have invited all the opposition parties, including the PPP and PTI as well as all religious-cum political parties. The ruling PML-N has not been invited,” JI leader Malik Azam told Dawn.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2016