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January 7, 2011

Agencies explore Qadri’s links


January 7, 2011

LAHORE: Security agencies investigating the assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer are trying to explore his killer’s links with Dawat-e-Islami, a non-political Sunni Barelvi religious organisation. The agencies want to ascertain whether the murder was an individual act or someone orchestrated it.

Informed police sources say Mumtaz Qadri, the self-confessed assassin, has already admitted during interrogations that he was an active member of Dawat-e-Islami. However, he has denied having been persuaded by any religious figure to carry out Taseer’s assassination, saying it was his personal decision.

Preliminary investigations show that Qadri was heavily influenced by the teaching of Dawat-e-Islami, which had been founded by Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Attar Qadri in Karachi in 1980. As a matter of fact, Qadri was not a part of his name originally but Mumtaz had added it as a surname being a follower of Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Attar Qadri, a scholar of traditional Islam who says his organisation is an international movement for propagation of the key Islamic sources — the Quran and the Sunnah.

The sources in the security agencies say Qadri’s arrested colleagues from the Elite Force of the Punjab Police as well as his close relatives are also being investigated to ascertain those in his close circles who could have influenced his decisions in the past.

Qadri’s cell phone record is also being scrutinised and all the suspected people in his call log have already been asked by the investigators to personally appear for investigations. Having five brothers and two sisters, Mumtaz Qadri got married one year and four months back.

Born in Rawalpindi in 1985, he was recruited in Punjab Police in 2002 and was elevated to the Elite Force in 2007. He was made a part of the Elite Force police squad deployed for security of Taseer almost seven months ago.

Coming from a humble family, Qadri’s father is a vegetable seller,

residing in Yousuf Colony of Rawalpindi. A week before carrying out Taseer’s assassination, Mumtaz Qadri had reportedly attended a protest demonstration in Islamabad, which was organised by the Sunni Tehrik.

The rally warned the government to refrain from granting pardon to Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman already condemned to death on blasphemy charges and introducing changes in the blasphemy law, as had been demanded by Taseer.

It has further been transpired that on January 1, 2010, hardly three days before killing the Governor Punjab, Malik Mumtaz Qadri, an extremely religious person, had organised a religious congregation at his home in Rawalpindi.

A police party that went to the assassin’s house in Rawalpindi a few hours after the incident had found some religious books in his room titled ìTarbiyati Halqasî and ìMasnoon Duasî, thus proving that he was a committed member of the Dawat-e-Islami which maintains international headquarters in Karachi, and has several national and regional headquarters in 72 countries of the world.

Two most significant activities of Dawat-e-Islami, whose Karachi headquarters are called Faizaan-e-Madina, are known as Madani Qafila (missionary travel) and Madani Inamaat (self assessment). Dawat-e-Islami also operates its own non-commercial television channel, the Madani Channel, which only broadcasts Islamic programmes and the activities of the outfit 24 hours a day. The programmes broadcast include Hamd, Naat, sermons, and question-answer sessions.

Dawat-e-Islami actually came into being in 1980 as a splinter group of Jamaat Ahl-e-Sunnat, which at that time was headed by late Allama Ahmed Saeed Kazmi. The Jamaat Ahl-e-Sunnat was in fact the religious wing of a leading political party at that time — the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP), led by late Maulana Shah Ahmed Noorani. Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Qadri, the then Punjab president of the Anjuman Talaba-e-Islam, the youth wing of the JUP, is in fact the founding ameer of Dawat-e-Islami.

The same split in the Sunni Barelvi parties gave birth to Sunni Tehrik (ST), which at that time was led by late Maulana Muhammad Saleem Qadri. While the followers of Dawat-e-Islami, which claims to be a party of preachers, are identified by their green turbans, the members of the Sunni Tehrik are identified by their dark brown turbans.

However, when approached for comments, a Dawat-e-Islami spokesman said: “It’s a totally propagational outfit which confines itself to preaching the teachings of Quran and Sunnah. Ours is an extremely peaceful and non violent outfit which does not believe in any sort of extremist activity.”