LAHORE – More than 150 religious seminaries put in the black and grey categories in Punjab for their direct or indirect links with banned outfits and recommended for proper action as part of National Action Plan (NAP), official sources told The Nation yesterday.

A massive exercise to tag the religious seminaries as black, grey and white launched last year to identify their direct and indirect connections with outlawed TTP and other banned outfits or no links with the extremists. Punjab Home Minister Col (Retd) Shuja Khanzada, who was assassinated by groups of the banned organizations for pursuing the goals of NAP had launched the initiative for tagging the religious seminaries in the province with the assistance of civilian and army intelligence agencies.

The black category indicates the seminaries which are directly connected with the 60 banned outfits declared as terrorist organizations by the Ministry of Interior. The grey category involves the seminaries which have indirect links with the same outfits or some of their teachers and students facilitating the proscribed organizations without the knowledge of their administrators. This category may be involved with the militants through indirect channels.

The categories of black and grey can be stated as the direct and indirect aiders and abettors of the banned outfits and some of them have taken part in the real militant action against the state or its populace, sources said.

The white category has the seminaries which are running their affairs by the book and not involved in any activity against the state.

According to the targets of the NAP any group, organization and individual if found connected with the criminal gangs operating in the name of religion would face severe action under special anti-terror laws.

Official sources told The Nation more than 150 religious seminaries in Punjab have been found connected with militants operating against the state under the garb of the religion. The students and teachers of the seminaries which fall under the black category and recommended for proper action as part of NAP are directly involved in militancy and fanning and carrying out sectarian activities.

The grey category involves the seminaries which are facilitating the banned outfit activists in terms of giving them shelter or providing them other indirect support to the militants to execute their plans. The exercise of tagging the religious seminaries carried out by both civilian and army intelligence services, they added.

Most of the seminaries of both categories belong to Dera Ghazi Khan, Bahawalpur, Layyah, Multan and Rahim Yar Khan in South Punjab, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Jhang, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi in North Punjab, Okara, Lahore, Gujranwala, Sialkot and Gujrat in Central Punjab and famous seminary in the federal capital, according to the official sources.

The top civilian and military leadership in an unusual meeting with members of religious seminaries in September this year made it clear that the government intended to register and streamline their working at all costs.

Both the leaderships told the leaders of Tanzeem Ittehadul Madaris (TIM) that they were ready to listen to their genuine concerns but also made it clear that no religious seminary would be spared if found involved in any kind of extremism or terrorism-related activities.