LAHORE: After the detention of its leader and a crackdown on activities, the under-observation Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) has once again appeared under a new name: the Tehreek Azadi Jammu and Kashmir (TAJK – Movement for Freedom of Kashmir).
Although still on the observation list of the authorities, the religious organisation has resumed its routine activities. Its ‘donation’ camps and ambulance centres across Lahore and other districts have restarted under banners calling for the independence of Indian-administered Kashmir.
The centres were closed down on the night of January 30 after the detention of Hafiz Saeed, the party chief, and four of his aides on accusations of disturbing peace and security. Law enforcers removed the banners and placards of JuD and its charitable wing of Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, which was also put on observation under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
After remaining closed for three days, all these centres reopened on Friday but without the banners bearing the names of JuD or the FIF. These centres located at Shahdara Chowk, Moon Market and Iqbal Town are now operating under the name of TAJK. Donation boxes and ambulances are stationed just like before.
The JuD and FIF have also planned a conference on Kashmir Day (February 5) at Nasir Bagh after Zuhr prayers and banners related to Kashmir, under the name of TAJK, have cropped up along all major roads.
To make the matters more laughable, FIF volunteers also participated in a rescue operation at Nankana Sahib, where an overloaded boat overturned reportedly with over 100 passengers on Friday.
An official of the Punjab police’s Counter Terrorism Department told The Express Tribune that authorities had closed the collection centres and ambulance service of JuD and FIF in all cities of the Punjab.
He added that law enforcement personnel removed the names of both organisations from these stalls by painting them over and confiscating the banners.
Only one centre, near the JuD headquarters at Markaz Al-Qadsia, is still functioning with workers seen collecting donations under banners seeking help for Kashmiris and Syrians.
TAJK Deputy General Khalid Waleed, a close relative of Hafiz Saeed, told The Express Tribune that CTD was continuing the crackdown against FIF and JuD activists in Faisalabad, Gojra, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Chiniot, Jhang and Sargodha.
He claimed the police were asking activists to come over to the police station and putting them behind bars. He added there was no ban on JuD or FIF and they were merely put on the observation list. “The arrests are illegal and unconstitutional,” he complained.
Khalid admitted JuD representatives were part of the TAJK, but the body was not a substitute for the JuD or FIF. When asked about the TAJK leadership, he said they were Kashmiris and Maulana Abdul Aziz Alvi was the head.
Commenting on the detention of the JuD leadership, the TAJK deputy general said it would trigger the Kashmir liberation movement. He added they were planning to hold rallies in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad on February 5. Fearing arrests, JuD activists have went into hiding and were assessing the situation.
After Hafiz Saeed-led Lashkar-e-Taiba was banned on January 14, 2002, the party renamed itself Jamaatud Dawa. The group has been on observation since January 17, 2007.
In the latest development, the Punjab government put FIF and JuD on the observation list on January 30 and under the second schedule of Section 11(1) EEE of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997. In an order by the Federal Interior Ministry, it was stated FIF and JuD were harming peace and security and had violated UN Security Council’s Resolution 1267.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2017.