Pakistan has, on Monday, hanged the former Police bodyguard who shot dead Punjab’s governor over his opposition to blasphemy laws.
Mumtaz Qadri, Pakistan’s former police commando brutally assassinated former liberal Punjab Governor Salman Taseer for seeking reforms in the country’s controversial blasphemy laws. His execution has triggering nation-wide protests by Islamists who called it a “black day“.
Mumtaz Qadri killed Salman Taseer in Islamabad in 2011, in a murder that shocked the country. He had shot Taseer 28 times in broad daylight in an upmarket locality of Islamabad.
Qadri was hailed as a hero by some Islamist groups, and thousands of hard-line activists protested to show their support for him at the time.
Within hours of the hanging, street protests broke out in several cities by the supporters of Qadri, who considered him as a hero for defending the faith, and had threatened violence if he were executed.
Rangers and riot police were deployed outside Qadri’s home in Rawalpindi where hundreds of supporters had gathered and also in nearby Islamabad.
Activists of Sunni groups, who had given a hero-like status to Qadri, blocked main intersections in Rawalpindi, cutting off the main link with capital Islamabad. Police and paramilitary security personnel were patrolling the roads.
A senior police official said that high alert had been issued in Rawalpindi and rest of Punjab province to tackle any untoward situation. “Security forces were on high alert and extra police were being deployed to clear the roads,” a police officials said.
Taseer, who died aged 66, had come out it in support of a Christian woman charged with blasphemy and termed the regulations “black laws” drawing the ire of extremists.
Anti-Terrorism Court had convicted and condemned Qadri to death in the same year, a ruling also upheld by the Islamabad High Court and the Supreme Court. A review petition of Qadri was also turned down by the top court on December 14 last year, leaving him with the last option of to file a clemency appeal to President Mamnoon Hussain.
His mercy appeal was also rejected by the President.
Radical religious groups had been demanding that Qadri be forgiven as he killed a “blasphemer.” Sunni Tehreek chief Sarwat Ijaz Qadri condemned the hanging.
It is black day in the history of the country. Those who executed Qadri have only spoiled their chances of success hereafter,” he said.
The funeral prayer of Qadri will be held on Tuesday in Rawalpindi.
Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in Pakistan, with even unproven allegations often triggering mob violence.
The controversial law was introduced by former military dictator Zia-ul Haq in the 1980s and so far hundreds of people have been charged under them.
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