RAWALPINDI: Tens of thousands of supporters turned out in Rawalpindi on Tuesday to attend the funeral of Mumtaz Qadri, the self-confessed killer of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, amid heavy deployment of law enforcers and tight security.
He was buried in Bhara Kahu near Islamabad.
Life in Rawalpindi came to a standstill on Tuesday as schools remained closed, the metro suspended and shops in Raja Bazaar, on Muree Road and Commercial Market were shuttered. The three major hospitals also remained on alert.
Security forces, deployed in force, kept a careful distance from the crowds. Junctions and sensitive buildings in Rawalpindi and Islamabad – including the metro — were guarded by thousands of police officials and paramilitary Rangers. Snipers were deployed on highrise buildings overlooking the crowds.
Ahead of Qadri’s funeral in Rawalpindi, thousands of people converged on Liaquat Bagh from across the country.
While the funeral prayers were scheduled for 2 pm, crowds which had been gathering since late night on Monday had filled the ground and the area around it by 11 am with participants making queues on Murree Road from Marrir Chowk to Chandni Chowk.
In wake of the massive turnout and the charged atmosphere, Qadri’s body was moved from his family home in Sadiqabad at around 11.30am. But the six kilometre journey to Liaquat Bagh took around four hours as supporters swarmed the ambulance which was carrying his body all the while chanting slogans and showering it with flowers.
According to one estimate, at least 100,000 people attended the funeral.
His funeral prayers were finally offered at 3.45pm. Pir Haseenuddin, the administrator of Jamia Rizvia Ziaul Aloom, Sabzi Mandi, Rawalpindi and chief caretaker of Tanzeemul-Madaris Ahl-e-Sunnat Pakistan, led the funeral prayers.
Other prominent figures including Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Chairman Mufti Muneebur Rehman, Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Sirajul Haq, Sunni Tehreek chief Sarwat Ejaz Qadri, former federal religious affairs minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi, and well-known Ahl-e-Sunnat Rawalpindi leader Qari Hanif Qurehsi were among those who attended.
No prominent political figure attended the funeral.
Following the funeral prayers, most of the people dispersed peacefully as Qadri’s body was escorted by his supporters to Attal in Bhara Kahu for burial.
The former bodyguard had been executed at the Adiala Jail early Monday morning for assassinating Taseer in Islamabad’s Kohsar Market on January 4, 2011 for his support to a blasphemy accused. An Anti-Terrorism Court convicted and condemned him to death – a ruling also upheld by the Islamabad High Court and Supreme Court.
A review petition of Qadri was also turned down by the top court on December 14 last year, leaving him with the last option to file a clemency appeal to the president.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2016.