ISLAMABAD, July 10: The government has decided to remove the building of Jamia Hafsa and all illegal structures in the Lal Masjid compound which were established on illegally occupied state land, sources told Dawn on Tuesday.

The sources said it had been decided before the operation that except the Lal Masjid all other structures including the residences of Maulana Abdul Aziz and Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi would be demolished.

A senior official of the local administration, who did not want to be named, said the government had decided to bring the Lal Masjid to its original size. However, he did not say exactly how long it would take to raze the illegal structures.

The Lal Masjid administration had reportedly been constructing structures and rooms in the mosque complex for the last many years but it accelerated the process during the tenure of the present regime.

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) had served many notices on the mosque administration and many anti-encroachment operations were also planned but every time people in the helms of affairs prevented such actions from materialising, the sources said.

“During the construction of the six-storey Jamia Hafsa building, which was completed in 2003, the CDA tried its best to stop the construction. However, a federal minister always interfered and stopped action against the seminary,” the sources said.

They said security forces who conducted the Operation Silence had also moved in heavy earth-moving machines and it was expected that the illegal structures would be removed some time during the next few days.

According to the local administration, only 25x50 feet (five marla) plot was given for the construction of Lal mosque but with the passage of time its administration extended the mosque complex to over two acres.

The cost of land illegally occupied by the mosque administration is stated to be in billions of rupees.

The sources said although the land illegally occupied by the mosque administration belonged to the CDA, at this stage nobody knew which of the departments would take it over.

Lal Masjid had become a hub of Deobandi school of thought in Islamabad and its clerics had challenged the writ of the state on many occasions.

The students of Lal Masjid’s seminary took part in a large number of demonstrations and agitations on the call of religious leaders against the government policies, United States and in the name of Islam.



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