Shia community stages sit-in at The Mall


–Protests against ‘biased’ behaviour of authorities

–Community leaders say won’t leave until demands met

LAHORE: Leaders of the All Parties Shia Federation on Tuesday said they were patriotic citizens of Pakistan but had been deprived of their basic rights.

Addressing a protest rally at Faisal Chowk on The Mall, they announced not seeking any permission to hold congregations in future.

“During the holy month of Muharram, police arrested hundreds of people belonging to the Shia community without any reason. At least 52 FIRs have been lodged against the administrators of different congregations for violating time restrictions,” they alleged and said that authorities were trying to “push them to the wall”.

“Our forefather were among the founders of the country and our sacrifices are equal to those of other Muslims. But unfortunately, we are being victimised as authorities are trying to reduce the number of our congregations.”

Waqar Hussain Naqvi said that they would not tolerate brutal police raids and registration of bogus cases against members of the Shia community. He said all those arrested by the authorities must be released and the cases against them be withdrawn.

“An action should be taken against those who desecrated the mourning congregations in Fort Abbas Chak 240 of Bahawalnagar. We are unable to understand as to why the authorities felt a need to stop the traditional mourning congregation in Sheikhpura,” he said.

Nasir Sherazi, at the protest, said that Shia community’s intellectual youth was serving the country as doctors, engineers and academicians. “But dozens of our community members are killed and authorities bat not eye. They are reluctant to stop this genocide in the country,” he said.

The protest, in which a large number of women and children participated as well, started in the evening and later turned into a sit-in. The leaders announced that it would not be ended till the fulfilment of their demands.

It was staged on the call of All Parties Shia Federation following an incident in Fort Abbas, where policemen allegedly misbehaved with women during a religious congregation. The video footage of that incident also went viral over the internet.

Meanwhile, due to the closure of Mall Road, commuters were left stranded on different roads and seen struggling in traffic gridlocks.

Long queues of vehicles were witnessed on The Mall as well as all other adjoining thoroughfares.