CHITRAL: The situation in Chitral city and nearby valleys returned to normal on Saturday a day after riots left several protesters and policemen injured.

An apparently deranged man made remarks at a mosque before Friday prayer that other worshippers considered blasphemous.

The suspect was handed over to police but angry people wanted the police to hand him over to them for mob justice, leading to an attack on the police station and subsequent tear gas shelling.

A local police official told Dawn that about 150 people had been taken into custody for their alleged involvement in riots, adding that a case would be instituted against them if a joint investigation team is recommended.

He said since the suspect had been booked under Sections 6 and 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act apart from Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, he had been sent to Swat where he would be produced before the ATC judge for remand.

Heavy contingents of the Chitral Scouts and police sealed roads connecting the city with other parts of the district. As part of security measures, internal roads were closed and movement of people was restricted.

Commercial centres wore a deserted look and educational institutions were closed. Examinations conducted by the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Peshawar, were held but candidates faced tremendous hardships in reaching the exam centres.

The ongoing Kagh Lusht Spring Festival being held in upper Chitral was called off because of the volatile situation in the area.

The concluding ceremony of the festival was scheduled for Sunday.

Meanwhile, the banned Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat appealed to the residents of Chitral to exercise patience and wait for the finding of the investigation team.

The demand was made by the ASWJ activists during a demonstration held outside the Peshawar Press Club.

Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2017