Tensions Flare Between Islamabad Police and Jamia Hafsa
Date: June 22, 2023
Islamabad, Pakistan – Tensions escalated yesterday as students from Jamia Hafsa took to the streets once again to protest against the attempted arrest of Maulana Abdul Aziz, the former Khatib of Lal Masjid. The incident, which unfolded after Maulana Abdul Aziz emerged from the mosque following Zuhr prayer, reignited painful memories of the past and raised numerous unanswered questions.
According to a report by Dawn newspaper, despite a ban from the authorities, Maulana Abdul Aziz left the mosque and was confronted by the police who sought to apprehend him. However, his bodyguards resisted the arrest, resulting in Maulana Abdul Aziz managing to evade capture.
In response to the incident, students from Jamia Hafsa blocked several key roads, including the bridge near Jinnah Avenue and Kulsoom Plaza, as they expressed their opposition to the attempted arrest of Maulana Abdul Aziz.
Confusion surrounding the entire event persists as both the police and Lal Masjid provided conflicting statements and failed to address many lingering questions.
The Lal Masjid, situated in the heart of Islamabad, drew significant attention in the past when the former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf conducted a military operation on the premises in July 2007.
A senior official from the capital’s administration confirmed that a team from the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) had visited Lal Masjid to engage in a conversation with Maulana Abdul Aziz and seek clarification on several matters.
Among the concerns were his continued role as the Khatib of Lal Masjid, despite his retirement and the appointment of a successor. Additionally, the CTD wished to inquire about other issues, including an alleged attempt to occupy an adjacent plot housing a children’s library.
However, the official did not clarify how Maulana Abdul Aziz managed to reach Jamia Hafsa in G-Sion or why the CTD teams were unable to prevent his escape.
Meanwhile, Maulana Abdul Aziz released a video statement on social media, recounting the events that transpired. He claimed that government vehicles arrived to arrest him immediately after he left Lal Masjid following the Zuhr prayer.
Maulana Abdul Aziz alleged that two CTD vehicles pursued him, forcing his car to stop. Subsequently, a group of officers emerged and attempted to apprehend him. He stated that they opened fire, resulting in a confrontation during which he sustained injuries. Unable to discharge his own firearm, he managed to acquire an officer’s weapon and returned fire. The commotion attracted a large crowd, affording him the opportunity to escape despite his injuries, ultimately reaching Jamia Hafsa.
Footage emerged showing Maulana Abdul Aziz’s car parked on the Kulsoom Plaza bridge on Seventh Avenue, displaying bullet holes on the windshield.
Later, in a video message, Umm Hasan claimed that Maulana Abdul Aziz had fired multiple rounds at the CTD team, resulting in a crossfire. With the assistance of local individuals, he successfully evaded arrest and reached Jamia Hafsa.
Umm Hasan’s video message also included an appeal to the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), requesting their support and urging them not to remain silent.
In response to the protests, students from Jamia Hafsa blocked several roads, including Jinnah Avenue. The Islamabad police made several attempts to engage with the protesters and bring an end to the demonstration. During the protests, students from the madrassa reportedly threw sticks at women constables. However, by evening, all the roads were cleared.
No arrests were made during the protests, but last night, three bodyguards of Maulana Abdul Aziz were taken into custody by the CTD, resulting in the filing of an FIR.
A senior official from Islamabad Police stated that all the bullets fired at Maulana Abdul Aziz’s car originated from inside the vehicle, suggesting that the shots were discharged by someone within.
As the dust settles on these tumultuous events, the public remains eager for clarity and accountability regarding the attempted arrest and the surrounding circumstances. The authorities must provide transparent and comprehensive explanations to address the concerns of the people.