ISLAMABAD: Police have arrested 18 participants of a religious procession following a physical confrontation between the law enforcers and mourners, as the former used force to disperse the procession taken out in Bari Imam on Monday night to mark ‘Youm-i-Ali’.

The case registered at the Secretariat police station includes sections 147, 149, 188, 186, 353, 341, 427, 337, and 506 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). The procession was led by a certain Asghar Naqvi, whose name is included in the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act

Police said the procession comprising up to 250 persons started from the residence of Mr Naqvi and reached Qadeemi Imamia Masjid in Bari Imam where it was intercepted by a contingent of the capital police, including the Secretariat, Pulgran, Bhara Kahu police besides the Dolphin Squad.

Police said the procession was taken out without an NOC from the district magistrate and Section 144, barring assembly of more than five people, was also imposed in the federal capital.

According to the police, the participants of the procession scuffled with the police when they asked them to wrap up the procession as “it was illegal and taken out without prior permission”. Subsequently, clashes resulted between the police and the mourners.

As a result of violence, a constable and an assistant sub-inspector were injured, said police. The police responded with teargas to disperse the procession whereas the participants pelted the police with stones which also damaged vehicles parked in the area.

The police said that the participants of the procession also blocked the road and later entered Bari Imam Shrine after breaking a gate, adding that the participants mourned inside the shrine and later the police arrested 18 participants of the procession.

A spokesman for the police said that the procession was taken out every year, but it has a history of confrontation with another sect. There is an issue with the route of the procession between the two sects, he said, adding that it was illegal to take out such rallies without prior permission. In light of the issue over its route, the said procession – being taken out for the past several years – does not get permission from the district administration on account of a possible law and order situation.

Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2024

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