Radical parties rally to support Taseer`s killer
Last Updated: Saturday, October 01, 2011, 21:59
  
Lahore: Pakistan's radical religious parties rallied in support of the assassin of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer after he was sentenced to death on Saturday, shouting slogans against the judge who delivered the verdict and calling for the release of Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri.

The hundreds of supporters of Qadri, who was given the death sentence by an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi this morning, marched in a rally from the Data Darbar shrine to Governor's House on Mall Road in Punjab's provincial capital Lahore.

Two more protests were held at Samnabad and Mozang areas of the city.

Hardline religious parties have warned the government that it will not be easy to carry out Qadri's death sentence.

Qadri, who was part of Taseer's security detail when he gunned down the Governor in January, can appeal against the death sentence within a week.

The protest on Mall Road, one of the main thoroughfares of Lahore, clogged traffic and caused several traffic snarls.

An ailing man from Nankana Sahib died on the road as the ambulance could not reach a hospital due to the traffic jam.

The protest on Mall Road was led by the Sunni Tehrik while the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and a group named "Lovers of Qadri" held demonstrations in Mozang and Samnabad.

Unconfirmed reports said the Tahaffuz-e-Namus Risalat Mahaz announced a reward of Rs 50 lakh for anyone who killed the judge who convicted Qadri.

The protesters burnt tyres and forced traders to shut their shops. Carrying batons and sticks, they shouted slogans against the judge and the government.

A large police contingent was deployed in Lahore's Mall Road, the centre of the protests by Pakistan's radical religious parties, to prevent any untoward incident.

At one stage, authorities briefly switched off street lights in the area to thwart the protest, which continued till late in the night though the number of demonstrators had dwindled.

In a statement, Jamaat-e-Islami secretary general Liaqat Baloch sought to defend the action of Qadri, who had gunned down Taseer for criticising the controversial blasphemy law.

"Salman Taseer had himself invited death by issuing blasphemous statements and Mumtaz Qadri did not deserve death in this case," Baloch said.

Commenting on the death sentence given to Qadri, Baloch said, "Mr Taseer had belittled the love of our people for the Holy Prophet by holding a joint press conference with the blasphemer woman and promising her clemency, which sparked the religious sentiments of the accused and prompted him to take the extreme step."

Before his death, Taseer had defended a Christian woman who was sentenced to death under the blasphemy law for allegedly insulting the Prophet Mohammed.

Baloch further said that though Qadri had made a confessional statement, the authorities should consider whether his execution would help improve the situation or deepen the religious sentiments of Muslims.

He claimed that the "execution of the death sentence will not be an easy step".

Leaders of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam too warned the government against executing the death sentence. They said the government would fall if it dared to execute the sentence.

A spokesman for the Pakistan People's Party, which heads a coalition at the Centre and to which Taseer belonged, welcomed the verdict.

"Qadri deserved the death sentence as he had killed Taseer and later confessed to his crime," he said.

PTI


First Published: Saturday, October 01, 2011, 21:59


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