Clashes in Lucknow after Shia clerics arrested

Sunday, November 14, 2010

LUCKNOW - Tension gripped large parts of the old city Sunday following prolonged clashes between the police and agitated mobs protesting against the arrest of leading Shia clerics Maulana Kalbe Jawaad and Maulana Agha Roohi.

Apart from pelting stones at police, the mob also resorted to arson, vandalism and staged road blocks for more than four hours.

Police said the trouble was sparked off over the question of supremacy in the governing council of the Shia College here.

According to eyewitnesses, the two Maulanas trooped into the nearly century-old educational institution along with some 200 of theior supporters and started holding a rally against the meeting of the governing council that was scheduled Sunday.

“Maulana Kalbe Jawaad and Maulana Agha Roohi were invited to the meeting of the managing committee in their capacity as members, but instead of joining the meeting, they started holding a protest meeting which they converted into a religious majlis (gathering),” said a senior college official.

“The maulanas had earlier moved a petition before a local court to prevent the managing committee meeting, but they failed to get any relief from the court, so they started resorting to extra-constitutional means to disrupt the meeting,” he claimed.

Police moved in on a complaint made by the college authorities, and no sooner the clerics concluded the majlis, they were arrested and taken to the local police lines, from where they were to be released soon.

However, they chose to stage a protest inside the police lines, where they were followed by a large number of their supporters, police said.

Meanwhile, Shia volunteers came out on the streets in protest in different parts of the old city.

Jawaad said they have sought expulsion and arrest of Maulana Mohammad Athar and his son. Mohammad Yasoor from the Shia College managing committee “which has become a hotbed of corruption”.

The college managing committee, however, announced the expulsion of both Maulana Jawwad and Maulana Roohi along with that of another veteran member, Kazim Zaheer, who earlier headed the committee.

Even as tension was palpable in some Shia-dominated area, district authorities termed the situation as “well under control”.

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