ISLAMABAD-Three-day standoff between deposed cleric of Lal Masjid Moulana Abdul Aziz and the district administration of Islamabad is creating a sense of fear and worries among the people living in neighbourhood of the mosque.

Maulana remains holed up inside the mosque along with several female students. Police have cordoned off the area by placing barriers and barbed wires on the roads around the mosque.

At present, Islamabad Police have closed one side of the Municipal Road—passing in front of Lal Masjid and another road called Masjid Road running on its northern side for commuters while heavy deployment of law enforcement agencies is quite visible in the area.

The state-owned Lal Masjid, witnessed a tense environment over the weekend as it was been occupied by deposed Moulana Aziz last Thursday and his supporters gathered inside and outside the mosque, which includes female students as well.

People who were approached by The Nation for comments expressed their anger at Moulana for challenging writ of the state again while they also criticised the district administration for mishandling the whole issue.

According to eyewitnesses, the female students have taken positions on the rooftop of the mosque while cleric’s supporters raise slogans time to time and prayers are being offered on roads as the administration is not allowing people to enter the mosque from outside the cordoned off area.

A resident named Baber Ali, who is living very close to the mosque said his family could not sleep properly for the last three nights as the religious anthems echoed from mosque’s speakers day and night, which are in routine used for ‘Azan’ only.

While responding on the issue a government servant, housed near the mosque told that the final papers of his children are few days away and growing tension in Lal Masjid is creating sense of fear as they had witnessed the same situation about a decade ago, when the operation was launched to clear the Lal Masjid.

This scribe tried to communicate to police officers deputed on spot but they were reluctant.

However, a deputy superintendent of police responded on the condition of anonymity that they have been directed to remain cool and calm and not to respond to the supporters of Lal Masjid’s cleric.

“We are here to maintain peace and not allowed to use force so that is why we are not saying anything to the supporters of Moulana Abdul Aziz for blocking roads during prayer times,” the police official said.

When contacted, the vice chairman of the respective union council Chaudhry Abdul Sattar—who is also a committee member of the said mosque said that the grievances of people living in the area are genuine.

“I cannot go inside the mosque but I will request Moulana Abdul Aziz to avoid misuse of the speakers of Lal Masjid,” he said, adding “The public should not be disturbed and I am expecting from both Moulana and administration for cooperation in this regard.”

Top level administration was approached for comments but they declined to respond due to the gravity of the matter.

They, however, hoped that the matter would be resolved through backdoor channels.

On the other side, this scribe when tried to approach Moulana Abdul Aziz, the call was attended by his aid who informed that Moulana is sleeping at the moment and not available for comments.