Clerics urged to restrict protests to worship places


Keeping in view the sensitivity of Rawalpindi incident, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah on Thursday urged clerics to restrict their Friday (today) protests to worship places.
Addressing a news conference at the Punjab House, he said the local administration has been directed to provide security to all worship places.
“The Punjab government requests clerics to limit their protests to worship places so that another opportunity could not be provided to anti-state elements attacking the national unity,” he added.
He also requested them to keep an eye on such elements, who somehow managed to enter their gatherings and create law and order situation.
Terming the incident “highly regrettable and condemnable”, the minister said the culprits involved in the crime have nothing to do with Islam and they have no association with any school of thought.
He said the miscreants, who were playing in the hands of their foreign masters, had attempted to dent the national unity and fan sectarian violence to destabilise the country for their nefarious designs.
Sanaullah appreciated clerics, media and people for failing the conspiracy and defusing the tension which emerged after the Ashura incident, adding, “The entire nation exhibited greater unity in effectively countering the evil designs of miscreants.”
He said that culprits behind the incident would not only be brought to book at the earliest but they would also be punished.
However, the minister regretted that some elements were misleading the general public through social media by giving distorted facts and figures.
The Punjab government, he said, was presenting actual data with full responsibility and it would not hide any factual position from the public and media.
Giving update on number of the victims, he said, 11 were killed and 56 injured in the incident.
“Presently, the 12 injured are under treatment in hospitals and two of them are in intensive care unit.”
He said the provincial government has initially allocated Rs 240 million for reconstruction of shops and religious places damaged, adding that the Damage Assessment Committee was working in collaboration with trade bodies’ representatives to mitigate suffering of the affected shopkeepers.
To a question, he said the judicial commission and fact-finding committee have started their work in an independent, impartial and transparent manner.
He said the police high-ups have been removed following the incident. The minister said legal action would also be taken against those officials showing negligence to maintain law and order.
Answering another question, he said the investigation team has so far identified 28 suspects involved in violece, saying “The investigators have complete identity of 28 accused, out of which 16 are in their custody for interrogation.”
He said the suspects have been identified through close-circuit TV camera footage, forensic and other evidences and “there is no doubt about their identity and involvement in violent activities”.