LAHORE/RAWALPINDI - A large number of members of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) on Saturday staged sit-ins and held protest demonstrations across the country against killing of ASWJ’s Punjab chapter President Maulana Shamsur Rehman Muawiya.

The ASWJ’s assassinated leader, Maulana Shamsur Rehman Muavia, was laid to rest in Lahore after successful negotiations with the government on Saturday.

The ASWJ ended its countrywide protest against the killing of Maulana Shamsur Rehman Muavia after the Punjab government’s assurance of taking every step to nab the murderers at the earliest.

According to sources, the government delegation, led by Adviser to CM on Health, Khawaja Salman Rafique, met with the leadership of ASWJ, including Maulana Aurangzeb Farooqi, Maulana Asharf Tahir and others and convinced them to end sit-in and call off their protest as the government would take every possible step to arrest the killers of Muavia. A delegation from ASWJ also met the Lahore capital city police officer (CCPO) in his office and received an assurance from him that the police would nab the culprits immediately. In the backdrop of successful negotiations between a seven-member delegation of ASWJ, led by Central Secretary General Maulana Aurgangzeb Farooqi, and the government authorities, the ASWJ leadership gave up its sit-in on Saturday night after offering funeral prayers of the slain leader.

A large number of ASWJ members and supporters from different parts of the country gathered on The Mall to attend funeral prayers and protest the killing of Maulana Muavia.

Cleric Khalifa Abdul Qayyum led the funeral prayers, attended by hundreds of workers and supporters. Workers and leaders of ASWJ and other parties from Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and Punjab, including Qari Rehmat Tousafi, Zaheer Ahmad Zaheer, former Sipah-e-Sahaba chief Maulana Muhib un-Nabi, Qasim Farooqi Baloch, Maulana Ashraf Tahir, Jamaat-ud-Dawa leader Amir Hamza, Saif-uddin-Saif and Abdur Rauf Farooqi of Jamiat Uema-e-Islam-S and Jamiat Ahle Hadith leader Abdul Ghaffar Rokri also attended the funeral prayers and addressed the sit-in rally.

Earlier, the ASWJ workers staged a sit-in in front of Masjad-e-Shuhada on The Mall. Hundreds of activists and leaders of ASWJ from across Pakistan, on the call of their leadership, started gathering around 12 noon on The Mall to offer funeral prayers and stage a protest demonstration. They staged a prolonged sit-in blocking the road, which resulted in a severe traffic mess in surroundings of The Mall. The protesters were chanting slogans in favour of their demands. They demanded the government bring all those involved in the killing of Shamsur Rehman to justice. They also warned the government to arrest and punish the killers otherwise they would do it themselves.

The protest started at 2:15pm and continued till 7:30pm when the government intervened in the matter and assured timely arrest of the killers of Shamsur Rehman. During the day-long sit-in, the protesters placed the body of the slain leader in front of the speakers’ stage near Masjid-e-Shuhada.

Addressing the protesters, Maulana Abdul Ghani demanded the government ban Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen as it was involved in the killing of ASWJ leaders across the country. Maulana Ashraf Ali said a large number of ASWJ leaders had been killed in the past few years. He demanded culprits should be arrested soon and hanged at the same spot where Maulana was shot dead.

ASWJ top leader Maulana Ahmad Ludhianvi did not attend the funeral prayers as he was not in the country. However, according to the negotiations between the ASWJ delegation and government functionaries, Ludhianvi would lead talks with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sahrif on December 15.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 angry ASWJ activists staged a violent protest against the killing of Maulana Shams-ur-Rehman Muavia at Faizabad Interchange and Islamabad Expressway and blocked traffic.

They were demanding immediate arrest of the killers of Maulana Shams-ur-Rehman. They pledged to continue the protest and sit-in till the arrest of the killers.

A heavy contingent of Rawalpindi and Islamabad police rushed to the scene but did not take any action to disperse the protesters. By staging a protest at Faizabad Interchange, the junction point of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, they effectively blocked traffic on both sides of Islamabad Expressway, Islamabad Club Road, Benazir Bhutto Road, IJ Principal Road and all other linking roads in the twin cities.

Commuters on all these roads got stuck in a traffic jam for hours as dozens of young men from ASWJ who were covering their faces with handkerchiefs and holding sticks in their hands were burning tyres and throwing stones.

Those who led the protest included Maulana Abdur Rehman, Maulana Abdur Razzaq Haideri, Maulana Bilal Umer and Maulana Imran Hazarvi. They tried to pacify the protesters who were trying to turn violent.

“Control your anger and do not be violent as it is against the teachings of Islam,” a leader advised the protesters. No political leader from any party approached the protesters to pacify the situation.

According to details, tens of thousands of irate protesters started gathering at Faizabad Interchange early in the morning and blocked the Islamabad Expressway and others roads leading to the interchange.

The protesters, carrying sticks, formed various groups to block traffic at seven points. They were chanting slogans against PPP Senator Faisal Raza Abidi, Sindh Assembly Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza and the law enforcement agencies. They said the hate speeches of both PPP leaders in TV shows hurt their sentiments and ignited the people of a sect that killed Maulana Shams in Lahore.

The roads leading to Islamabad and Rawalpindi were littered with stones, bricks, bottles, bamboo sticks and ash of burning tyres. As a result, the city experienced heavy traffic block as long queues of vehicles could be witnessed on BBR, Committee Chowk, Saddar, Airport Road, Kutcheri Road, Sadiqabad Road, Dhoke Kala Khan, Bilal Town, Shakrial, Kuri Road and Service Road.

Our Staff Reporter from Peshawar adds: Dozens of Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat activists Saturday held a protest demonstration in front of the press club against the killing of Maulana Shamsur Rahman Muavia. The activists, led by Maulana Ismail Darwaish, Mufti Najeebullah and Haji Saeedur Rahman Safi, strongly condemned the brutal killing of Muavia and asked the federal and Punjab governments to arrest the killers forthwith. The protesters were holding placards and banners inscribed with slogans against the government and law-enforcing agencies for their failure to provide security to ASWJ leaders.