Jamia Hafsa demolishion operation

ISLAMABAD, July 24: Demolition of the bullet-riddled building of Jamia Hafsa started on Monday amid tight security, a senior government official said. On the first day, about 30 per cent of Jamia Hafsa building and residences of Maulanas Abdul Aziz and Abdul Rashid Ghazi were razed.

The operation will continue till Wednesday during which the entire building of the seminary will be bulldozed.

"We have hired heavy earth moving machines and bulldozers for the operation in which over 200 workers are taking part," Capital Development Authority (CDA) Chairman Kamran Lashari said.

Meanwhile, a source said the operation was being conducted jointly by the CDA, local police, Punjab police and Rangers under the supervision of military authorities.

It refreshed memories of the eight-day operation carried out by the army against Lal Masjid militants which claimed the lives of 102 people, including 11 security officials. The area around Lal Masjid was again cordoned off and heavy contingents of security forces were deployed there.

Residents of G-6 sector, who live in the eastern and western sides of the mosque, faced great trouble during the first day of the operation as all streets on both sides were blocked with barricades. Personnel of Islamabad and Punjab police and Rangers were seen standing at the corner of all streets leading to Lal Masjid.

The area in the vicinity of Lal Masjid was in the grip of tension and fear and the situation became worse when an unclaimed black bag was found at a petrol pump located in the area.

Workers and other people at the fuel filling station left the site and stood away from it. Police and bomb disposal squad were called but before their arrival a worker of a car washing station at the petrol pump showed courage and opened the bag.

A laptop computer and a car registration book were found in it. The car registration book was in the name of a person named Inamul Haq.

Police also found his mobile telephone number on the registration book and called him to Aabpara police station to collect the bag.

The Lal Masjid administration reportedly kept on constructing illegal structures and rooms in the mosque complex for the last many years but it accelerated the construction work during the tenure of the present regime.

Another CDA official said the mosque administration had encroached upon 7,500 sq yards (16 kanals) of land for the construction of Jamia Hafsa.

He said Lal Masjid administration had also encroached three plots allocated for women library, the author's corner and a gymnasium.

The establishment of women library was a project of the education ministry and it had been provided an alternative plot for the library.

The CDA had served many notices on the mosque administration and sometimes anti-encroachment operations were planned in the past but all such actions against the mosque were prevented by the people in power, the sources said.

The construction of Jamia Hafsa's four-storey building was completed in 2003 and during its construction, the CDA tried their best to stop it but a federal minister interfered and stopped action against the seminary, they said. Dawn



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