Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif on Sunday constituted a committee to resolve the issue of disputed mosques in the city brought up by the Tahafuz-i-Namoos-i-Risalat Mahaz last month.
The committee, formed to fulfil the chief minister’s promise made to the Barelvi leaders in return for cancelling a sit-in on The Mall on February 29, has been given the task of ensuring that a locality with a majority of residents belonging to a sect has a mosque of the same sect. According to the Barelvi leaders, some of their mosques in the city had allegedly been occupied by Deo Bandis and Wahhabis.
Law Minister Rana Sanaullah will head the committee. Members of the committee include three Barelvi leaders, two Deobandi, two Wahhabi and two Shiite leaders.
Tahafuz-i-Namoos-i-Risalat Mahaz had planned to take a rally out on February 29 from the Lahore Press Club to Club Chowk, The Mall, despite a ban on rallies on The Mall. The protesters had planned to stage a sit-in to protest against the government for neglecting the issue of the disputed mosques.
However, before the protesters could execute the rally, some police officials, on behalf of the Punjab government, had pledged to take up their demands before the chief minister. They were assured that their demands would be met in accordance with the law. The sit-in was then cancelled.
While the Punjab government has fulfilled one of its commitments, it is now faced with reservations from Tahafuz-i-Namoos-i-Risalat Mahaz, which apposes the appointment of Sanauallah as the committee head.
The Sunni Ittehad Council, the main part of the Tahafuz-i-Namoos-i-Risalat Mahaz, had earlier held a long march in November 2010 demanding the government oust Sanaullah.
Muhammad Ziaul Haq Qadir, the Tahafuz-i-Namoos-i-Risalat Mahaz spokesman, said that they have strong reservations against Sanaullah. He said their organisation had been demanding his ouster from the government for having connections with members of banned organisations.
He also said they had not been taken into confidence before the committee was constituted.
He said there were more than 23 mosques in Lahore, including the Badshahi Mosque, that “belonged to Barelvis” but had been “illegally taken over” by the Deobandis and the Wahhabis. Many of these mosques, he said, had also been taken under supervision by the Auqaf Department.
He said Jamia Mosque Railway Survey Colony, Garhi Shahu; Takia Sain Lalu, Lorry Adda; Jamia Masjid Gulshan Ali Colony, Defence Road; Jamia Masjid Mian Saeed, Ichhra; and Jamia Mosque Khoocha Pir Gilania in the Walled City were some of the disputed mosques.
The Barelvi members are Pir Aminul Hasnat Shah of Darul Uloom Jamia Muhammadia Bhera Sharif; Maulana Raghib Hussain Naeemia, head of Jamia Naeemia; and Maulana Abdul Mustafa Hazarvi, head of Jamia Nazamia.
The Deobandi members are Maulana Asad Obaid, head of Jamia Ashrafia; and Maulana Amjad Khan, head of Jamia Rehmania. The Wahhabi members are Maulana Abdul Wahab Ropri of Masjidul Quds Chowk and Maulana Hafiz Zubair Ahmed Zaheer of Jamia Masjid Umar Bin Abdul Aziz.
Maulana Muhammad Hussain Akbar of Jamia Minhajul Hussain and Maulana Qazi Sayed Niaz Naqvi are the committee’s Shia members.
The Auqaf Department minister and secretary, the housing secretary, the urban development and physical health secretary and the Interior Ministry secretary are also among its members.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2012.