Hundreds of residents of Azam Abad on Sunday torched Jamia Al-Uloom Sirajia Rasoolia Rizvia, a seminary in Azam Abad Street 5, after two children playing outside the seminary died when a derelict boundary wall fell on them on Sunday.
The protesters trying to set the building alight were allegedly shot at. Raza Abad police baton charged the protesters to break the protest, clashing with them for three hours. The protesters blamed seminary officials for the boys’ deaths and demanded that they be publicly hanged. The police arrested three of the protesters for shooting and seized their weapons.
Hafiz Abdus Shakoor, 16, and Hafiz Muhammad Abdullah, 13, had been playing along the seminary’s boundary wall when it collapsed on them. Both boys were trapped under the debris.
They were pulled out by neighbours and Rescue-1122 officials and taken to Allied Hospital where they later succumbed to their injuries.
When news of the children’s death spread, hundreds of people stormed the seminary. They pulled down its main entrance and pelted the building with stones. The protesters also set fire to the furniture and several rooms of the seminary. The Jamia Al-Uloom Sirajia Rasoolia Rizvia had served as a mosque and religious educational institute for 29 years.
One of the protesters, Muhammad Ashfaq, a resident of Azam Abad, told media persons that the seminary had been illegally constructed on private land. “The structure was kacha (unsound) and dilapidated,” he said, “That is why the wall collapsed.”
Muhammad Tufail, another protester, told The Express Tribune that the madarasah had been built in 1985 on land grabbed by Muhammad Fazl-i-Haq – the head of the seminary. Haq was in Lahore at the time of the incident. “Haq’s father Pir Ghulam Rasool Rizvi Qadri’s mausoleum is also attached to the seminary,” he said.
The madarasah sprawled over an acre. It was run by Barelvi clerics. The children who died came from Deobandi families, Tufail said, “That gave a sectarian angle to the incident.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 2nd, 2013.