Supporters of Mumtaz Qadri once again came out on City roads on Tuesday, blocking The Mall where they staged a sit-in in front of the Punjab Assembly in a bid to mount pressure on the federal government for acceptance of their top-three demands ie reopening of Qadri’s case and declaring him innocent and shaheed, assurance by the government that Article 295-C would not be amended, and release of all arrested Sunni activists.
Traffic on adjacent roads and adjoining arteries remained suspended and commuters faced severe problems, with some ambulances seen struck in gridlocks and denied passage to nearby Sir Ganga Ram Hospital by the hostile religious activists.
Malik Abdul Hameed, an elderly man with grey hair, who wanted to reach his destiny, got into an argument with the protesters and was beaten up by them. “I myself am a strong follower of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and as far as I know, he (PBUH) never advocated this type of rigidity throughout his life”, he said while talking to Pakistan Today. He added that the protesters had made it a routine to take to roads every second day to stage a demonstration and thus creating problems for commuters.
Ali Arslan, a student who was going to his academy, told this scribe that these people were not protesting for a “noble cause” as they were playing in the hands of the leadership of the Sunni sect who provoke them in the name of religion. “I am stuck in the traffic for the past two hours and I’ll not be able to go to the academy now just because of these fanatics”, he deplored.
Hafiz Muhammad Umar, a protester told Pakistan Today that they were in continuous contact with their leadership in Islamabad. “We have been instructed to stay here and block the roads come what may,” he said.
It may be mentioned here that the central leadership of Sunni Tehrik has been staging a protest in the federal capital for the past three days over the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, a constable of Punjab Police who killed the former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer in cold blood. It has been witnessed in the recent weeks that the leaders of Sunni Tehreek have defiantly blocked the Mall Road of Lahore several times and delivered provocative speeches. These leaders include Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi, Dr Ashraf Asif Jalali and Pir Irfan Mashadi to name a few. The walls surrounding the building of Punjab Assembly have been all chalked with hate slogans against the prime minister and president of Pakistan.
The leaders were taking promises from the protesters that they would stay intact at any cost. “I have come here to be martyred and need your allegiance and support as well”, said an announcement made from the loudspeaker.
Heavy deployment of police was there but the police officials were not taking any action against the protesters.
A police official told this scribe on the condition of anonymity that he cannot do anything without receiving order from the high-ups.
Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Operations of Lahore Police Dr Haider Ashraf told Pakistan Today that he cannot pass any order to launch a crackdown against the protesters till the time they remain peaceful. “The police would arrest them if they resort to create any sort of violence”, he commented. The protesters occupied the road till the filing of this report.