ABBOTTABAD/HARIPUR: People came out on the roads in different parts of the Abbottabad city on Saturday and in Haripur on Sunday to protest alleged desecration of the Holy Quran by an undertrial prisoner in the Abbottabad jail.
Enraged people started coming onto the roads in the Abbottabad city as the news of the incident spread with the protesters smashing signboards and damaging government installations. The protests continued till Saturday night.
Inter-city transport was blocked at the entry and exit points of the city as protesters went on a rampage. All city bazaars were closed.
The situation remained normal on Sunday as the district administration had held negotiations with the protesters, including religious leaders, traders and activists of different groups. A 10-member committee was formed to probe the incident.
During the negotiations, the protesters’ leaders demanded that Section 295-C be added to the FIR against the culprit, suspension of the jail superintendent, protection to the policemen who had noticed the criminal act and action against the policemen having provided copies of the Holy Quran to him.
To prevent further unrest, the accused was shifted to the Haripur jail under tight security late on Saturday night.
To condemn the alleged desecration of holy Quran, the activists of Jamaat-i-Islami’s Youth Wing staged a protest rally at the Central Jail Chowk, Haripur, and chanted slogans against the accused and the jail administration.
The speakers said the accused was arrested by the Abbottabad police in May 2019 on similar charges and was shifted to Haripur jail, where he again committed a similar act in October 2020, and was again transferred to Abbottabad prison.
They said due to poor administrative control the accused had again committed the blasphemous act.
The speakers demanded registration of FIR against the accused.
Sheikh Hasan Abdullah, president of JI Youth Wing, and Afzal Ahmed, president JI Labour Wing, were among those who spoke to the protesters.
Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2021