Punjab Police arrest 100 Clerics in attempt to hold a Rally in Pakistan to “celebrate” 6th Anniversary of then Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer’s Assassination

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(Representational Image) Kashmiri protesters hold Pakistani flags, one with swords and the word "jihad" written on it, during a protest in Srinagar, India, July 8, 2016. Youths in the Indian part of Kashmir protested allegations that Islamic preacher Zakir Naik was involved in making hate speeches, VOA

Lahore, Jan 4, 2017: Over 100 clerics were arrested in Punjab province on Wednesday for attempting to hold a rally in Lahore to “celebrate” the sixth anniversary of the assassination of the then Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer.

Taseer, Governor of Punjab and an outspoken advocate for reform of the blasphemy laws, was showered with bullets by his own bodyguard Mumtaz Qadri.

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The clerics were given a go-ahead to hold a rally on Mall Road but not in Gulberg in Lahore. Heavy police contingents were deployed at Kalma Chowk and roads blocked with containers. The Metro Bus Service was suspended after a few clerics and their followers entered its track.

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Taseer, who had angered religious zealots with his statements against the country’s controversial blasphemy laws, was killed in Islamabad’s Kohsar Market on January 4, 2011. His assailant, Mumtaz Qadri, who later admitted the killing, was subsequently executed in Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail in 2016.

Nearly a year after the hanging of Qadri, a shrine was being built in his memory in Bhara Kahu, not far from the capital where Taseer was gunned down.

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A month after Taseer’s killer was executed, a mob of pro-Qadri protesters converged on the capital and besieged Islamabad’s Red Zone for nearly a week. (IANS)