ISLAMABAD July 13: The Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal on Friday organised protests all over the country against the Lal Masjid operation on the call of the Wafaqul Madaris. Imams and khatibs in Rawalpindi condemned the military operation and rejected the official death toll and said that a large number of students had been killed.

Qari Mohamamd Hanif Jallendhri, secretary-general of Wafaqul Madaris, told Dawn that khatibs condemned the operation and urged the Supreme Court to take suo motu action against the operation.

Blaming the government for creating the crisis, he said the ulema considered that the government had used excessive force to end the crisis, which was nearing settlement through the efforts of prominent ulema and an official team.

Reiterating the Wafaqul Madaris’ demand for immediately handing over the bodies of the people killed in the operation, he said: “We also call for a judicial commission to … fix responsibility for the flare up and subsequent action which caused the bloodshed.”

Prayer leaders in various cities and towns encouraged people not to believe the official statements and that the weapons shown to the media after the operation were not part of the Lal Masjid arsenal. They said it was part of the government’s negative propaganda campaign.

Shahid Shamsi, MMA’s spokesperson, said that protest rallies were held in all major cities and district headquarters.

Two demonstrations were taken out on the Murree Road and Tench Bhata in Rawalpindi in which MMA leaders accused the government of killing so many “innocent students”.

Local MMA leaders Dr Kamal, Maulana Abdul Majeed Hazarvi and others led the processions. Participants raised slogans against the government and the military operation.

They also urged the Supreme Court to intervene in determining the real death toll and help in handing over of the bodies to their heirs.

In Islamabad, there was little response to the protest call and only a few dozen people had assembled in G-7. Imams and Khatibs in Islamabad mosques avoided saying anything against the operation in their sermons.

Demonstrations were held in various parts of the NWFP, including Peshawar, Mansehra, Battagram, Kohistan, Mardan, Swabi, Lower Dir, Hangu, Karak and Upper Dir.

Seminary students and activists of religious parties held demonstrations in several parts of Sindh.

Rallies and processions were brought out in Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and Nawabshah. Religious leaders held the government responsible for the bloodshed and called for a judicial inquiry into the causes that led to the operation.In Quetta, activists of the Jamait Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) and Jammat-i-Islami took out separate protest processions.

The JUI-F rally started out from the Jamia Masjid and culminated at the Meezan Chowk. The rally was addressed by Hafiz Fazal Mohammad, Maulana Abdul Qadir Luni, Qari Anwarul Haq Haqqani and Maulana Ghaffar Mengal.

Workers of the JI held a protest demonstration outside the press club in Quetta. JI’s Quetta Amir Zahid Akhtar addressed the agitators.

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