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Thousands defy rally ban to observe Mumtaz Qadri’s death anniversary

Updated March 02, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Thou­sands of people here on Wednesday defied a ban on demonstrations to observe the death anniversary of Mumtaz Qadri, the convicted murderer of former governor of Punjab Salman Taseer.

Qadri was executed on Feb 29 last year for killing Mr Taseer. He had been assigned as one of Mr Taseer’s bodyguards after the governor enraged religious right by calling for reform to the blasphemy laws in support of a Christian woman who had been sentenced to death.

After his arrest, Qadri became a hero to many for his action.

Despite the increased security on Wednesday, with police shutting down entire roads, people thronged to Qadri’s grave on the outskirts of Islamabad.

The crowd chanted slogans exalting Qadri and proclaiming Pakistan an Islamic state.

Islamabad police confirmed that the crowd was somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 people.

“The protests were peaceful and the crowd dispersed after the speakers were done,” a police official said.

On Tuesday, the Punjab government had said that protests would not be allowed to take place in the city due to a spate of bombings and attacks that have killed more than 130 people nationwide.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2017