ISLAMABAD: Officials of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) on Friday arrested the central president of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), Allama Aurangzeb Farooqi, while he was heading to Havelian on a ‘personal visit’, an ASWJ office bearer confirmed.
CTD officials and Rawalpindi City Police Officer (CPO), however, denied they have detained Farooqi. “He is not in our custody. Neither we have arrested the man nor handed him over to anyone,” said CPO Israr Abbasi. The official at the CTD office said the same, adding that neither was he arrested nor was an FIR registered against him.
Contrary to those denials, a Rawalpindi police spokesperson confirmed Farooqi’s arrest by the police and his later handing over to CTD.
A senior police official, requesting anonymity, also confirmed the development saying Farooqi was arrested due to the sensitivity surrounding recent sectarian incidents in the twin cities and charges on him will be decided later.
According to the ASWJ Karachi secretary, Abdullah, who was along with Farooqi when he was detained, said on Thursday night officials of the Taxila administration told them CTD has decided to arrest Farooqi and he was not allowed to lead the Friday prayers as well as other gatherings in Taxila.
On Friday, Abdullah said CTD officials arrived in two vehicles and took Farooqi into custody while they were heading to Havelian for a family wedding.
Earlier, Abdullah revealed Farooqi attended a religious-certification ceremony at a madrassa in Murree, with permission from the local administration.
ASWJ supporters protested in the twin cities following his arrest and blocked the Islamabad Expressway for several hours.
Expressing concerns over the arrest of their key leader, ASWJ chief Allama Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi said law enforcers arrested Farooqi instead of arresting those who were killing ASWJ workers.
In the last two years, around 20 workers of the ASWJ have been killed in twin cities and it is a question mark on the government’s performance, Ludhianvi said in a statement.
“If the government thinks we are terrorists then it should explain why they beg for our votes,” he said, adding “we will reconsider our policy against those who are enjoying power in Punjab with our support if they do not stop these atrocities.”
On Monday night, a local leader of the ASWJ, Maulana Idrees Kashmiri, was killed within the jurisdiction of Lohi Bher Police Station in the capital’s outskirts when armed motorcyclists shot him dead.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2015.