Police arrests 60 Sunni Tehrik activists in Pak

Police have arrested over 60 activists of the Sunni Tehrik in this eastern Pakistani city for "spreading religious hatred" in society.

Updated: Jul 16, 2010, 18:28 PM IST

Lahore: Police have arrested over 60
activists of the Sunni Tehrik in this eastern Pakistani city
for "spreading religious hatred" in society.

Lahore police spokesman Niyab Haider confirmed the
crackdown on the Sunni organisation in the city.
He said only persons whose names were on a list of
members of proscribed organisations had been detained.

The move came after the PML-N-led government in Punjab
province apparently succumbed to pressure from the hardline
Deoband school of Islam.

Deobandi leaders had alleged a few days ago that the
Sunni Ittehad Council is attempting to ignite sectarian riots
in Pakistan.

Deobandi elders warned that if the Punjab government
failed to stop "patronising" rival sects, the PML-N should be
ready to contest the next election on the basis of divisions
among the Deobandi and Barelvi sects.

Sunni Itehad Council chairman Fazle Karim had
threatened that his group would launch countrywide protests
against Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif`s government for
"patronising" the Deobandis, whom he held indirectly
responsible for the recent suicide attack on the Data Darbar
shrine in Lahore.

"Instead of initiating action against the Deobandis,
the Punjab government has started arresting our people," Karim
said.

On the other hand, a meeting of Deobandi leaders held
at Jamia Manzoorul Islam in Lahore Cantonment declared that
Fazle Karim and others were conspiring to cause Deobandi-
Barelvi riots while Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif seems
to be a Khadm-e-Barelvi (slave of Barelvis).

They said that if the provincial government does not
stop patronising the Barelvis, a campaign will be launched to
make the next elections a contest between the Deobandi and
Barelvi schools of thought.

The Deobandi leaders also demanded the setting up of a
judicial commission headed by Pakistan`s Chief Justice to
probe the attack on Data Darbar.

Prominent among those who attended the meeting of
Deobandi leaders was Maulana Muhammad Ahmad Ludhianvi, a
former leader of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi who is accused
of having links with al Qaeda.

His new group, Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat, supported the
PML-N in a recent by-poll in Jhang district.

Ludhianvi said he would accept any punishment if any
arrested member of his group is found involved in terrorist
activities.

Alleging that some people were conspiring to pitch the
Deobanis and Barelvis against each other in the name of the
attack on Data Darbar, he said that such a scenario will be
destructive for Pakistan.

Urging the government to take the situation seriously
and act against conspirators, Ludhianvi alleged that Fazle
Karim and his colleagues were planning sectarian unrest.

Through a resolution, the meeting urged moderate
Barelvi parties to join hands with the Deobandis for
maintaining peace.

PTI