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SC given conflicting claims on number of Jamia Hafsa students

ISLAMABAD, Aug 2: The government and Lal Masjid's former chief cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz and his wife on Wednesday gave the Supreme Court conflicting figures on the exact number of students enrolled at Jamia Hafsa, the Lal Masjid madrassa for girls.

Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Ali submitted a statement to the court saying Jamia Hafsa's enrolment register put the number of madrassa students at 1,770 - 1,526 boarders and the rest day-scholars.

Meanwhile, Jamia Hafsa's principal Majida Umme Hasaan, who wife of Maulana Aziz, claimed in a statement that 3,600 regular girl students were enrolled in the madrassa. The statement was recorded by a lawyers' legal aid committee. Maulana Aziz gave similar figures in his statement, saying the madrassa had registered 3,500 girl students of whom 3,000 were boarders.

The statements were submitted to a bench of the Supreme Court that has taken suo motu notice of the action at Lal Masjid.

The government informed the bench that a total of 662 men and 470 women were arrested in the Lal Masjid operation, and 604 men and 467 women had since been released.

Shamshad Cheema, standing counsel for the federation, said that 57 persons were in judicial custody and one person, wanted by the police, was in a hospital.

"The only evidence available to determine the exact number of students and teachers is the enrolment register retrieved from Jamia Hafsa, which contains the names of 1,770 girl students and their 158 women teachers," he said in a statement.

He said that 77 bodies of boy students were recovered from the Lal Masjid-Jamia Hafsa compound. Most of these students did not belong to Lal Masjid or Jamia Hafsa and came to Lal Masjid in support of the Ghazi brothers. He said the bodies of 20 students had been handed over to their parents.

"In villages a person can be identified in dark and you are saying that a father cannot identify his son in daylight," Justice M Javed Buttar remarked.

Cheema's statement said a meeting of the lawyers' legal aid committee with Umme Hasaan to confirm the total number of the students studying in Jamia Hafsa had been arranged, but the body refused to meet Maulana Aziz and his wife in the presence of an investigation officer. Later, it said, the committee was allowed to meet the detainees in the absence of the investigation officer. Maulana Aziz's sisters were also allowed to meet their brother in privacy in line with the Supreme Court's orders. The lawyers committee also filed a statement about the details of its meeting with Umme Hassan and Maulana Aziz.

The bench comprising Justice M Jvade Buttar and Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan directed Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema to present complete particulars of the bodies whose identity had been ascertained through DNA tests. The bench will resume the hearing of the case on August 9. Daily times
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