New Delhi: Khadim Hussain Rizvi, chief of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a radical Islamist party in Pakistan, died at a hospital in Lahore Thursday after experiencing breathing difficulties and a fever.
The 54-year-old cleric and politician was last seen leading a protest on 16 November in Islamabad against the publication of Prophet Muhammad’s caricatures in France.
On Thursday evening, Rizvi, who was wheelchair-bound, was taken to the Sheikh Zayed Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival, said the late cleric’s son, Hafiz Saad Rizvi.
According to a document accessed by Pakistani daily Express Tribune, the hospital pronounced him dead at 8.48pm.
While the cause of his death is unclear, a report by Associated Press noted that Rizvi displayed Covid-like symptoms such as fever and breathlessness but he was never tested for the disease.
“Rizvi had had a high fever for four days and developed serious respiratory problems on Thursday. He was then taken to hospital where he died,” the report quoted his doctor, Dr Salman Ahmed, as saying.
Speculations regarding death
After the pronouncement, speculations rose that Rizvi was actually alive. Another TLP spokesperson claimed that Rizvi had started breathing again and had called for an ambulance but the hospital staff confirmed him as dead.
Rizvi’s son Hafiz also posted a video clarifying the rumours and said that after 15 minutes of being pronounced dead, his father had started breathing again for about five minutes but did not survive.
VIDEO: Clarifying rumours related to the death of TLP chief Maulana Khadim Rizvi, his son Hafiz Saad Rizvi said that after 15 minutes of being pronounced dead his father started breathing again for approximately five minutes but could not survive.
— The Express Tribune (@etribune) November 19, 2020
Another video surfaced on social media, which showed supporters mourning over Rizvi’s body at the hospital.
— Asad Ali Toor (@AsadAToor) November 19, 2020
The late cleric’s body was taken to his residence at Grand Battery Stop Multan Road from the hospital, where large numbers of supporters gathered, reported Geo News.
Local TLP officials said a funeral prayer for Rizvi will be held at Minar-e-Pakistan — a national monument in Lahore — on 21 November.
Prime Minister Imran Khan also offered his condolences in a tweet Thursday.
On the passing of Maulana Khadim Hussain Rizvi my condolences go to his family. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) November 19, 2020
Who was Khadim Hussain Rizvi?
Rizvi was known as a “blasphemy activist” committed to protecting Khatm-i-Nabuwat, an Islamic religious movement in Pakistan aimed at protecting the belief that Muhammad was the last Prophet, and Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code which comprises the country’s blasphemy laws.
Born in the Punjab province of Pakistan on 22 June, 1966, Rizvi received his religious education at a madrasa in Jhelum and later studied at Lahore’s Jamia Nizamia Rizvia.
He gained prominence as a charismatic preacher while serving as the appointed Imam of the Pir Makki Mosque in Lahore.
In early 2016, the hardline cleric led a rally in Lahore for the release of death-row convict Mumtaz Qadri which turned violent and prompted fierce police action and the use of tear gas to disperse crowds.
He was also a key leader in a violent three-day protest in Pakistan against the acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was accused of blasphemy in 2018. The country’s Supreme Court had acquitted her of all charges.
In December that year, Rizvi was arrested on sedition and terrorism charges for staging violent protests, making inflammatory remarks against the judiciary and the prime minister and “provoking the military to stage a mutiny”. He was released on bail in May 2019.