ASWJ leader shot dead in Lahore

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LAHORE – Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat provincial chief Maulana Shamsur Rehman Muavia was assassinated in a drive-by shooting near Ring Road when he was on his way home after Friday prayers. ASWJ spokesman said that Muavia’s driver and a passer-by were also wounded as the car came under heavy gunfire at Batti Chowk near the Ravi Road police limits on Friday afternoon. Both the injured persons were taken to a nearby hospital, where doctors described their condition as serious. The ASWJ, a front for the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, has announced country-wide protests against the targeted killing.
Scores of followers of the cleric rushed to morgue soon after the incident as the news of the high-profile killing spread in the city like jungle fire. The activists also staged demonstration at Neela Gunbad to condemn what they said ‘a coward act of terrorism.’
Punjab Inspector General of Police Khan Baig has taken serious notice of the brazen gun-attack and constituted a special police team to unearth the assassins.
“All the police officers are directed to remain on their toes to maintain peace in the province,” a spokesperson for the Punjab police said. Heavy police contingents are deployed around Masajids and Imambargahs in all major cities because a violent reaction cannot be ruled out against the killing.
Police investigators said that apparently it was a ‘sectarian assault’ in which four unidentified terrorists targeted the cleric with automatic guns and escaped after ensuring his on-the-spot death.
“A bullet pierced through the skull of the cleric, resulting in his instant death,” a police investigator told reporters after examining the body at the city morgue.
Fifty-year old Maulana Muavia along with his driver was coming back after offering Friday prayers at a local Masjid when four men intercepted his car near Ring Road. An eyewitness told the police that as the car moved towards Batti Chowk from Ring Road, some motorcyclists sprayed the vehicle with bullets, causing panic and terror on the busy road during rush hours.
“They (gunmen) were anxiously waiting for the car by parking their bikes alongside the road. It was a complicated gun attack and they fled on the bikes within a few minutes,” a senior official quoted an eyewitness as telling the police investigators at the crimes scene.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif strongly condemned the murder of religious scholar. Taking notice of the murder of Maulana Shamasur Rehman, the chief minister has sought report from Inspector General Police Punjab.
He said that the assassination of the religious scholar is highly lamentable and directed that the criminals involved in this incident should be immediately arrested and brought to justice.
In 2001, Gen Pervez Musharraf-led government had banned the sectarian group Sipah-e-Sahaba under duress from the United States to crackdown on militancy but the group subsequently re-emerged with the name of ASWJ.
Security experts say sectarianism should be taken as a serious threat and the government must deal with it strictly. Sectarian vulnerability should not be allowed to create ferocity, unrest and disorder in the country. This entails application of stringent measures and harsh control over sectarian groups to avoid conflicts and spread of religious hatred, they added. They also urged the authorities to enforce law besides demonstrating inter-sect harmony and mutual respect.
In May, Sunni Tehreek leader Khurram Qadri had been shot dead in Samanabad area of Lahore. On Oct 22, a leader of the defunct Sipah-e-Muhammad, Dr Ghulam Raza, was shot dead at Shalimar.
Staff Reporter from Islamabad adds: Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) announced on Friday that it would organise a sit-in at Faizabad, a locality that exists at the border of twin cities. The decision was taken by Maulana Atta Muhammad, president of ASWJ KPK chapter.
ASWJ workers led by Maulana Atta held a protest rally against the murder of their leader in Lahore. The workers gathered gathered at Aabpara Chowk on Friday and protested against killing of Maulana Shamsur Rehman.
Condemning the death of his colleague, Atta warned the government of another series of protests and demonstrations across the country if it fails to trace and arrest the killers of Shams.