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Dr Qadri speaks to media at Lahore airport.—DawnNews
Dr Qadri speaks to media at Lahore airport.—DawnNews

LAHORE: Prominent cleric and head of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Tahirul Qadri on Wednesday announced a "grand protest" against what he called the failure of authorities to deliver justice in the Model Town firing incident in which 14 people were killed and over 100 others injured.

Dr Qadri, who spoke to media representatives at Lahore airport upon his arrival from Canada after eight months, said the "protest cum sit-in" will be organised on Lahore's Mall Road on June 17.

"This is a protest as well as a sit-in... I will announce the details on June 17 at Mall Road," he said, amid a rousing welcome from supporters who showered him with rose petals.

"Two years have passed [since the killings]. No other example of this worst form of state terrorism can be found in Pakistan's history," he said.

Dr Qadri said his party had been in pursuit of justice for the past two years "but how can we possibly get justice when the killers are our rulers?"

"This was no police encounter... this was a one-sided massacre perpetrated by the Governments of Pakistan and Punjab," he said.

He thanked Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif for "having the First Information Report (FIR) registered in the case".

"But two years have passed since the registration of the FIR, and the helpless people have yet to get justice."

Dr Qadri said it was now the army chief's "responsibility to give justice to these oppressed people".

See: Tahirul Qadri: From preacher to politico and back again

At least 14 persons were killed and over 100 injured during an alleged anti-encroachment operation outside Dr Qadri’s residence on June 17, 2014.

An anti-terrorism court last year indicted 46 suspects, among them police officials and PAT workers, in the Model Town firing case.

A joint investigation team formed by Punjab government to investigate the incident exonerated Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and former provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah from charges of ordering or abetting the police action.

Dr Qadri, a religious scholar and founder of Minhaj-ul-Quran, an organisation which aims to promote peace by educating young minds about classical Islamic sciences, brought Islamabad to a standstill with mass anti-government protests in early 2013.

He has been living in Canada since 2005 where he also acquired Canadian citizenship. Dr Qadri has said he can more effectively manage his international network from the North American country.