Parts of Lahore blocked to deter ‘pro-blasphemy law’ demonstration

A container blocks off an underpass to Gulberg. ─ Photo by author.
A container blocks off an underpass to Gulberg. ─ Photo by author.

BY IMRAN GABOL: Demonstrators in favour of the blasphemy law planning to rally in Punjab’s provincial capital Wednesday, on the death anniversary of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, were deterred from doing so as police erected blockades in different parts of Lahore to prevent the gathering.

Taseer, a former governor of Punjab and an outspoken advocate for blasphemy law reform, was gunned down by his security guard Mumtaz Qadri the same day six years ago.

Protesters belonging to the Sunni Tehreek, Tehreek-i-Khatme Nabuwat and Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool (SAW) were among those who had planned to rally in favour of the blasphemy law.

The protesters had planned to march from Kalma Chowk to Liberty Chowk.

Superintendent Police Security Ibadat Nisar said the Punjab government had not allowed the demonstrators to hold any rally in Lahore. He said police would not allow the demonstrators to reach their destination and would block routes and make arrests if necessary.

Main Gulberg and all arteries leading to it have been blocked from Barkat Market to Main Market and police have been heavily deployed across the city.

Residents in Lahore are facing severe traffic jams along certain routes due to the diversions.

A pro-blasphemy law protest had also been planned for Rawalpindi today, according to reports circulating on social media.

Open support for Taseer’s killer

On Taseer’s death anniversary, banners proclaiming Mumtaz Qadri as a hero cropped up in various cities. The banners call people to commemorate ‘Youm-i-Namoos-i-Risalat‘.

Nearly a year after the hanging of Qadri, a shrine is being built in his memory in Bhara Kahu, not far from the capital where he was brutally gunned down.

A month after Taseer’s killer was executed, a mob of pro-Qadri protesters led by the Sunni Tehreek and the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool (SAW) converged on the capital and besieged Islamabad’s Red Zone for nearly a week.

The stand-off between the government and protesters ended without a showdown after three days and several rounds of negotiations between both parties. -DN

THE PASHTUN TIMES

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