Hundreds of people including ulema belonging to different schools of thought on Thursday staged demonstrations in various parts of Sialkot city as a protest against the desecration of a shrine and graves at Shataabgarha on January 13.

They kept the traffic blocked on various roads including Defence Road, Shahabpura Road, Kutchery Road, Jail Road, Uggoki Road, Hajipura Road, Naikapura Road and congested Allama Iqbal Chowk Sialkot city for about two hours by burning tyres. They were chanting slogans against the desecration, demanding immediate arrest of the perpetrators. They were carrying banners and placards. They staged a sit-in at Allama Iqbal Chowk. Later, they marched on various roads and assembled at district courts, where they staged a sit-in for one hour. The senior police officials then negotiated with the protesters and assured them of early arrest of the accused.

Last Monday, armed men had desecrated the shrine and dozens of graves. The incident occurred on the eve of Jashan-e-Eid Milaadun Nabi (PBUH). A gang of unknown armed men stormed into the graveyard, desecrated over 20 graves and clothes inscribed with Quranic verses, and damaged the shrine of Baba Shah Wali Sarkar commonly known as Baba Chan Peer before Fajar prayers.

They had damaged and broke the nameplates and plaques of these graves and left several placards and pamphlets carrying the names of Jamaatud Dawa. The incident has created a panic among the local people, who staged a demonstration outside the graveyard and kept the traffic blocked for about two hours. They strongly protested against the incident by burning tyres on the road. The mob demanded immediate arrest of the perpetrators.

Meanwhile, Jamaatud Dawa District Ameer Abu Abdullah talking to newsmen at Sialkot, had denied any sort of involvement of his organisation in the incident. He said that it was a conspiracy against Jamaatud Dawa and it aimed to spread sectarian violence. He strongly condemned the incident, demanding immediate arrest of the perpetrators.

A big contingent of police remained alert in Shataabgarha, Uggoki and surrounding parts of Sialkot city to avert any untoward incident. Meanwhile, the Uggoki police registered a case under sections 295-A and 297 PPC against unknown accused on the report of Hafiz Muhammad Khalid Jillani, the prayers leader of a local mosque, with no arrest so far. The FIR revealed that the accused damaged the shrine’s minarets and dome and desecrated the sacred wreathes carrying Quranic verses. The senior police officials confirmed that no accused had yet been arrested.

Sialkot DCO Iftikhar Ali Sahu and local elected representatives rushed to the spot and urged the people to remain peaceful. The DCO told newsmen that the situation was under-control. DCO revealed that security had been beefed up at all the shrines in Sialkot district. Local MPAs Manshaullah Butt and Ch Muhammad Ikram held a meeting with local Ulema. This was third such incident took place in Sialkot city during the last two weeks. The local parliamentarians asked the local Ulema to promote religious harmony and play their pivotal role for helping the district administration to maintain law and order in Sialkot.