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April 4, 2020

Police run for their lives after crowd insisting on Friday prayers attacks them


April 4, 2020

As many people are not happy with the directives of the Sindh government regarding the Juma prayers, the situation at a mosque in Liaquatabad took an ugly turn on Friday where a large crowd reacted to the police trying to stop the congregation prayers of Juma.

In the resulting clash, the crowd attacked the police team that had come to the mosque after learning about the Juma prayers there. The mob damaged the police vehicle and forced the law enforcers to flee.

The incident occurred at the Ghausia Masjid in Liaquatabad No 7, within the limits of the Liaquatabad police station. Later, police registered an FIR No 97/20 under the sections 269, 188, 186, 353, 324, 147, 148 and 149 of the Pakistan Penal Code read with the Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act on behalf of the state at the Liaquatabad police station against around 250 to 270 people, including prayer leader Rahim Dad Qadri, mosque committee member Sohail Baig and worshippers, including Muhammad Salman Khadim, Muhammad Najam, Muhammad Abdullah, Kamran Qadri and Hamid Atari.

“We have registered a case against about 250 to 270 people and arrested seven people including a prayer leader so far,” confirmed Karachi Additional IG Ghulam Nabi Memon while talking to The News. “With placing multiple sections of the Pakistan Penal Code for attacking and damaging the cops and their vehicles, we have also placed an anti-terrorism clause in the FIR.”

It was reported that the Imam (prayer leader) of the Ghausia Masjid was heading the Juma congregation prayers despite a ban imposed by the government from 12 noon to 3pm. A large number of people gathered in the mosque to offer the Juma prayers.

According to the police, when the matter came into the knowledge of the local police, their team reached the mosque to arrest the prayer leader. The police alleged that the prayer leader incited the people to violence who attacked the police team. In a bid to save their lives, the police personnel fled the scene.

Later, a heavy contingent of police reached the site and arrested the Imam along with others, and registered a case against them on behalf of the state.

The three-hour lockdown was put in place by the Sindh government to restrain people from gathering in the Friday congregation prayers. The move aimed at countering the spread of coronavirus. The lockdown in Sindh has been extended till April 14 in view of the increasing number of cases.

Residents said that before the Friday prayers, some cops on a police mobile van announced with the help of a loudspeaker on the streets of Liaquatabad that people should not come out for the congregational prayers.

“Everything was doing well when suddenly personnel in plainclothes came, and abused and manhandled the prayer leader, which prompted the people there to fight them,” said a resident of the area. “Last week, the police also stopped the citizens to go to the mosques and citizens followed the instructions but this time, they misbehaved with the prayer leader due to which, the crowd turned violent.”

Police officials, however, denied the allegations leveled against them, saying that Liaquatabad SHO Liaquat Hayat and the prayer leader were in talks when the crowd gathered, attacked the police and attempted to snatch official weapons from the cops. Two cops were assaulted by the crowd and they had to take refuge at a citizen’s home, the police said.

“The Friday prayers with around 70 to 80 worshippers had ended when the SHO along with his three constables went to the mosque and was talking with the prayer leader when the residents started gathering there,” said DSP Aslam Khakrani while talking to The News.

“The SHO was not there to arrest the Imam. He (SHO) could ask the prayer leader to visit the police station but due to a misunderstanding, the crowd gradually gathered and turned violent, believing that the police had come to arrest the prayer leader.”

The DSP alleged that as the crowd started to gather, an announcement was also made from the loudspeaker of the mosque that incited the people to attack the police.

A video that circulated on social media showed the crowd attacking the police mobile vehicle and pelting some cops with stones who were running for their lives. Further investigations was underway.

Apart from this incident in Liaquatabad, four more cases were registered on Friday for not following the directives of the Sindh government regarding the Juma prayers at the Bilal Colony, Surjani Town, Madina Colony and Pakistan Bazaar police stations.

The number of cases registered this Friday were, however, significantly less than the 50 cases that were lodged last Friday when dozens of worshippers, including the prayer leader of the Memon Masjid in Kharadar, were arrested.