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Punjab seminaries raided; 35 held

January 12, 2004

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LAHORE, Jan 11: Widening their scope of investigation into attacks on President Pervez Musharraf, law enforcement and intelligence agencies raided several seminaries in Punjab and picked up about three dozen suspects.

The raids were carried out on seminaries at Lahore, Faisalabad, Sargodha and Bahawalnagar. Policemen were deployed at the seminaries in Lahore after the raids, but officials denied the raids and arrests.

Sources said the raids were conducted on information gleaned from some suspects already in the custody. "We strongly condemn the raids," Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Information Secretary Riaz Durrani told Dawn. Describing the action as unjustified, he said scores of innocent people had been picked up.

Two seminaries, belonging to the JUI, were raided in Lahore on Saturday night. Darul Uloom Madressahtul Muslimat, located on Multan Road, was cordoned off by the police commandos when the inmates were asleep, said a student.

"Law enforcers trespassed on the religious school and woke up the inmates," the student said. The policemen humiliated students, teachers and the head of the seminary, 85-year-old Maulana Nafees Ahmad, he said, requesting anonymity. Fuming at the arrest of Maulana Ahmad, the student said a total of 10 men, including teachers, students and staff, were whisked away.

Sources said six of the suspects, including the elderly maulana, were released later and the rest were shifted to an unknown place.

The other Madressah, located in Chauberji, was raided early Sunday and a man was picked up. "Officials did not tell us where they were taking him," a staffer said. Later, heavy contingents of police were deployed at the two seminaries. Reports reaching here say similar raids were also conducted on a seminary in Bahawalnagar. No arrest was reported.

SARGODHA: Seventeen people were picked up in three raids here. Eight were arrested at Rafiqa Medical Centre near Block 12. Six of them were shifted to some unknown destination and two - Jawad Ahmed, son of Prof Saeed, the owner of the medical centre, and his employee Salman were detained at a police station.

Two people were taken into custody at a religious school in Midh Ranjha. The school is being run by Maulana Mohammad Ilyas. On Saturday night, law enforcement agencies raided the localities of Block 12, 19 and Maqam-i-Hayat and took into custody seven people, who were taken to Islamabad. The areas are known abodes of religious people.

FAISALABAD: Seven suspects were picked up during a midnight operation. A heavy contingent of the police encircled a number of villages in Samundri tehsil on Saturday night. It raided many houses and dwellings in Chak 478 GB and its adjoining villages.

The police also raided the house of the in-laws of Mohammad Amjad Farooqi, who is allegedly involved in the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl.

Mohammad Saleem, Mohammad Nadeem, Mohammad Haneef, Saifullah, Mazharul Islam, Ata Mohammad, Ikhlaq Ahmed and others were arrested during the operation. The police covered their faces with black masks and drove them away.

A majority of those arrested are said to be relatives of Amjad Farooqi. The raiding team also seized some files and other materials from their houses.

A senior police official told Dawn on condition of anonymity that the investigation agencies had found a vital clue that the militants of the banned Jaish-i-Muhammad were involved in the assassination attempt on Gen Musharraf and they were believed to have links with the same group which had kidnapped and murdered Daniel Pearl.

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