ISLAMABAD, March 28: Signs of Talibanisation appeared quite evident on Wednesday in the heart of the federal capital when hard-line religious leaders and hundreds of men and women activists from the local madressahs challenged the writ of the government for the second time by trying to force their brand of Islamic justice in Islamabad.
They first took hostage three women from a house near their stronghold of Lal Masjid for allegedly running a brothel and later forcibly detained two security personnel in protest against detention of their four supporters, two of them women teachers of Madressah Hafsa.
The madressah students, mainly women, had been taking rounds of the nearby markets for a few days, threatening video and music shop owners to close down their business. In some way, they had been encouraged by the soft pedalling by the government on their earlier action of occupying a children’s library two months back, which still remained in their control.
The three women were apparently kidnapped two days ago, but the situation took the form of a confrontation on Wednesday when the authorities detained four madressah people on the charge of threatening video-shop owners. The madressah students reacted violently, and within no time two police vans were attacked and two security officials taken hostage.
Later, the ulema and local administration reached an agreement under which Qamar Abbas of Islamabad police and Hammad of Punjab police were released with their official vehicles. In return, the two women teachers and two other activists were released by the police.
However, the three kidnapped women were still stated to be in the custody of the students of the madressah and negotiations were under way for their release.
“We will not release the women unless a ‘strong’ FIR is registered against them so that they can be taken to task for their immoral activities,” said Ghazi Abdul Rashid, deputy Imam of the mosque.
The tension that gripped the capital continued from 1pm to 8pm as all roads leading to the Lal Masjid were closed by police and baton-wielding students of Madressah Hafsa and Jamia Fradia, another seminary of the mosque for men, remained on the roads, staged a demonstration and chanted slogans against the government and President Pervez Musharraf. Heavy contingents of police was seen outside Aabpara police station but they did not go close to the mosque. The hard-line ulema of the mosque are reported to be trying to impose ‘Talibanisation’ in the capital after the government showed its incapability to get vacated the library occupied since Jan 21.
According to a security official, the ulema were trying to expand their operations in the city in the name of Jihad.
Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Chaudhry Mohammad Ali said the ulema had a facility to use frequencies of FM radio and on Wednesday they blocked four frequencies -- FM 92 to 96 – to launch their propaganda through radio for an hour in the morning.
The students of Madressah Hafsa, who had been occupying the government’s library for children for the past two months, had raided the house, picked the owner Shahmim, her daughter Sadaf and daughter-in-law Nadia Batool, and detained them in Lal Masjid.
Abdul Rashid claimed that the ‘brothel’ had been raided on the complaint of residents of the area, who, he said, feared that the owner, allegedly having links with senior police officials, would take revenge if they lodged any report against her.
Police picked up Madressah Hafsa teachers Tasleem Bibi and Seyeda Bibi with two activists, Qari Aziz and Maroof, who had tried to close a video shop. Two police personnel present there stopped them and took them away.
Police took the four to Aabpara police station and kept them there for eight hours.
They were released when Lal Masjid Imam Qazi Abdul Aziz gave an ultimatum to the local administration that if the teachers were not released by Maghrib, the activists would march towards the police station to burn it.
The government made Aabpara Police Station SHO Mohammad Safeer a scapegoat and suspended him.
A police source said he had been suspended for not tackling the situation and picking up the teachers of the seminary at a time when Chief Justice Chaudhry Iftikhar Mohammad was addressing a big gathering of lawyers in Rawalpindi and an Azadari procession had been taken out from the Markazi Imambargah, located half a kilometre away from Lal Masjid.
The deputy imam of the mosque said he had given 15 days to the administration for releasing five activists and former Inter-Services Intelligence official Khalid Khawaja, who was pursuing the case of people who had ‘disappeared’.Police sources said the activists had removed wireless sets from their vehicles they were monitoring all the moves of the force.
Later, the Islamabad police chief ordered the force not to use wireless sets for conveying any message.