RAWALPINDI/ISLAMABAD - Mumtaz Hussain Qadri was buried in the suburbs of the federal capital yesterday amid fears of violence as the law-enforcing agencies’ personnel threw a tight security cordon around the flashpoints.

Earlier, the funeral prayer of Qadri, a police commando who was hanged for murdering former Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer for criticising blasphemy laws, was offered at Liaquat Bagh Rawalpindi and attended by thousands of mourners who hailed him as a hero.

Life in most of the capital continued as routine except road blockades near the Red Zone, but the scene was quite different in Rawalpindi where schools were closed, shops were shut and there were people on almost all major roads leading to Liaquat Bagh.

People from different parts of the country had started gathering from Monday night to offer the funeral of Qadri, who was sentenced after lengthy court proceedings and the sentence was upheld by superior courts of the country.

In view of precarious security situation and expecting huge rush that could cause some fatal accident, the law enforcement agencies had blocked some key roads to stop vehicles from entering the funeral prayer venue.

The participants made queues on Murree Road from Marrir Chowk to Chandni Chowk and on Liaquat Road and at College Road to offer the funeral prayer. The ground of Liaqat Bagh was jam-packed by 11am.

The funeral prayer was supposed to be offered at 2pm but it took almost three hours to shift the body of Qadri from his Sadiqabad house to the venue due to huge rush, and finally the prayer was offered around 3:45pm.

The prayer was led by Pir Haseen ud Deen Shah, an influential cleric of the country who administers a seminary in Rawalpindi and is Chief Caretaker of Tanzeem ul Mudaris Ahl-e-Sunnat Pakistan.

The prominent among the attendees were Jamat-e-Islami chief Siraj-ul Haq, Mufti Muneeb ur Rehman, the head of country’s Ruet-e-Hilal Committee, former federal minister for religious affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi. Apart from JI chief and Hamid Kazmi, no prominent political figure from ruling or opposition parties attended the funeral.

Among the prominent leaders of various Sunni organisations, Pirs and custodians of different famous sufi shrines were Pir Muhamamd Afzal Qadri, Dr Ashraf Asif Jilali, Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi, Sahibzada Abu Al-Khair Muhammad Zubair, Pir Muhammad Naqib, Allama Kokab Noorani, Syed Riaz Hussain Shah, Engineer Sarwat Ijaz Qadri, Shah Muhammad Awais Noorani, Hafiz Ahmed Raza Qadri, Sahibzada Hamid Raza Hashmi, and Qari Hanif Qurehsi and Sahibzada Usman Qadri.

The dead body was later taken to Athaal village, four kilometres away from Bara Kahu in the capital’s suburbs. Qadri supporters threw rose petals on his coffin and chanted slogans against the government.

Thousands of police were deployed along the route of the funeral procession from Liaqat Bagh to Bhara Kahu area in the Islamabad’s suburbs and the law-enforcers monitored the proceedings by helicopters.

Though the students of different seminaries and activists of different religious organisations – who made up most of the crowd – largely remained peaceful, some people attacked a DSNG of a private television channel at Committee Chowk.

Supporters of Qadri were annoyed with the media persons for not covering the execution and the funeral. They did not allow the media persons to use cameras as some photographers took pictures from rooftop of the building of Rawalpindi Press Club.

Sufficient security arrangements were made by Rawalpindi district administration while the DCO and police high ups were present in Water and Sanitation Agency office near Liaqat Bagh to monitor the funeral proceedings.

Pakistan Rangers was deployed on track of the Metro Bus Service for surveillance. Policemen were also deployed on high rise buildings around Liaqat Bagh and on the Murree Road. The government had closed all education institutions in the city and the metro bus service. There was red alert in three major public sector hospitals.

A district government official told The Nation that Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif was personally monitoring the funeral and other security arrangements in Rawalpindi.

He said the CM had approached different religious leaders on Monday about their plan to hold funeral and requested them to control the sentiments of the people, who were made to believe by religious extremists that Qadri did the right thing by killing Salmaan Taseer and that he was wrongly convicted.