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ISLAMABAD/RAWALPINDI/LALAMUSA/ LAHORE: The government has decided to ban Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) under the Anti-Terrorism ACT as its activists, supporters and workers have been carrying out violent protests across the country for the last three days against the arrest of their chief.
“The Punjab government has requested to ban the TLP and the summary would be forwarded to cabinet for approval,” Federal Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said while addressing a press conference on Wednesday. He said TLP is being banned due to its involvement in violent acts in the country.
Two policemen were martyred and 340 personnel sustained injuries due to violent protests in the last three days, the minister said. He said that TLP leaders used to come to all rounds of talks with the government after issuing instructions to their workers regarding road closures. He said the TLP workers were very much ready to create further unrest and it has been decided to ban the TLP and file in this regard is being moved to the cabinet for approval.
Sheikh Rashid said the TLP workers through blocking roads had stopped ambulances from reaching their destinations and obstructed the transport of oxygen cylinders for COVID-19 patients being treated at various government hospitals.
He said that TLP activists wanted to come to Faizabad Chowk and Islamabad at all costs but their extensive preparations were effectively countered by police. He said the GT Road and motorways had now been cleared for traffic while Faizabad in Rawalpindi would be opened today.
He said that activities of TLP had tarnished the image of Pakistan at the international level. He said that they (TLP) wanted such agreement that all Europeans would leave Pakistan.
Sheikh Rashid said two policemen were killed and at least 340 injured in the violence and the law would definitely follow those who blocked roads and disseminated the message of unrest through social media.
He called upon TLP members running the social media to surrender because they were mistaken in their belief that they could create problems for the government through it. The minister said the police personnel were made hostage by TLP workers to bargain on their demands but they had now returned to their police stations. He said that motorways, GT Road and other roads have been cleared for traffic, adding that Pakistan Rangers have done an excellent job in collaborating with the police and the administration in this regard.
He said efforts were made till the last moment to convince them to agree on a resolution to be presented in the assembly, but all of our efforts were unsuccessful as they wanted the unacceptable content to incorporate in it. “We want a document that elevates the flag of the Prophet (PBUH), but their demands were to give impression about us an extremist-minded state” he maintained. “We want a document that exalts the flag of the Prophet (PBUH), but what you are demanding gives an impression of us being an extremist-minded state to the world,” he told the TLP leadership.
He said the government was still committed to present a bill regarding Namoos-i-Risalat in the National Assembly and had held several meetings in this regard with TLP leaders.
The minister said the government intended to move ahead on the agreement made with TLP earlier but our efforts to convince them failed. He said miscreants had snatched a rifle from a police officer and used it to fire at others in one of the protests.
Regarding the FIRs filed against protesters, Sheikh Rashid said that First Information Reports (FIRs) were filed against the protestors in accordance with the law. The interior minister said, “As far as the matter of Finality of Prophethood (Khatam-e-Nabuwat) is concerned, there is no compromise on it and I am ready to give my life”.
Responding to a question, Sheikh Rashid said that he never supported TLP nor met Khadim Hussain Rizvi. He said the ban on TLP is being imposed due to due to TLP's character and not due to any political compulsion.
Earlier, he conducted a meeting to review law and order situation and renewed commitment to deal with an iron hand who took law in their hands. The meeting was attended among others by Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri, interior secretary, inspectors general of police Punjab and Islamabad, chief commissioner Islamabad and representatives of Pakistan Rangers and other law enforcement agencies. The minister congratulated the security personnel in clearing areas from the protestors and directed further to ensure the writ of the state at all cost.
Meanwhile, 250 murder and terrorism cases have been registered against protesters who tortured police personnel and other law enforcement agencies men and ransacking and damaging government and private properties and vehicles on the roads across the country. It was reported that sit-ins of TLP had come to an end in several cities, while agitation continued in some places and roads remained blocked.
Meanwhile, police booked 81 persons including 11 nominated and 70 unknown persons over protest on GT Road and keep block GT Road. Reportedly, City Police has registered a case against 11 nominated persons including religious persons Syed Ghulam Mohiuddin, Syed Qamar Ali, Mudassar Ali, Qari Ghulam Abbas, Hafiz Rahman, Muhammad Waseem, Qari Ikram, Usman Aziz Qadri, Qurban Ali, Nawaz Khan, Muhammad Akmal and 70 unknown persons over allegedly blocked GT Road from both sides during protest near Sabzi Mandi over reacting the arrest of TLP Chief Saad Hussain Rizvi.
Police alleged that protesters threw stones and attacked at police. Police has taken a generator, 10 motorcycles, a deck and a loud speaker in its custody. It is worth mentioning that protesters, who were chanting slogans with claim that they will not hesitate from any sacrifice over the honour of the Last Prophet (PBUH), were without any weapon then.
After a long clash of 4-hours in between law enforcement agencies and TLP activists, police and Rangers have taken full control of Rawalpindi city but Faizabad Intersection was yet closed from all sides till the filing of this report here on Wednesday.
On the other hand, TLP activists have warned to come again to lockdown whole city till the acceptance of their demands. The sit-in protests by TLP activists against the arrest of their party chief Maulana Saad Rizvi turned violent, leaving several law enforcement personnel including Ranger officials injured in Rawalpindi.
The Liaquat Bagh turns into battlefield as violence unfolded, police fired shells to disperse protesters while angry protesters threw stones at police officials in late night. The law enforcement agencies cleared Liaquat Bagh, opened all roads and took full control of city on Wednesday morning.
GT Road, T-Chowk, Peshawar Road, Kashmir Highway, Tarnol Road and several other roads have been opened from all kinds of traffic. The law enforcement agencies have installed big containers here at Shamsabad. The Fiazabad Intersection was closed by installations of big containers.
The clash left many of the police officers and protesters injured while some cops also sustained serious injuries. The injured were later moved to Allied Hospitals for medical treatment. The law enforcement agencies used intense tear gas shelling against the stone-throwing protesters who occupied all city areas. The city police also arrested several protesters of TLP and shifted them to different police stations. The protesters also damaged bus stations by pelting stones and with bamboos. They have also broken windows of nearby plazas and shops during clash.
The nearby residents faced fear and panic to see tear gas shelling all around on 1st Ramazanul Mubarak. Police and Ranger officials were patrolling all around in Rawalpindi city to control law and order situation.
The Rawalpindi district administration Wednesday called in the Rangers to assist civil and law enforcement agencies and tasked them with handling the agitated law and order situation and to keep peace in and around Rawalpindi District.
The Rawalpindi district police, with the help of anti-riot force (ARF) and Rangers came out in the Wednesday morning to disperse the activists of TLP and initiated their job to maintain order in the city.
On the other hand, the establishment decided to engage the leadership of the protestors in negotiation to avoid the use of force against the agitating activists of TLP, the sources said but keeping in view of deteriorating situation of peace, the government decided to use force to maintain law and order and to establish writ of the law.
The joint team of the police and Rangers were deployed in the most sensitive and turbulent areas including Committee Chowk, Murree Road, Mareer Chowk, Liaquat Bagh, Rawat, Gujar Khan, Taxila, Fateh Jang, and the highways leading to Rawalpindi from Kashmir and Murree where clash and unrest was on peak and agitators had blocked the main roads and arteries and separated the twin-cities from the other areas.
Meanwhile, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has strongly condemned violence in different parts of country during last three days, in which two policemen among seven people were killed in different incidents.
In a statement on Wednesday, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that this kind of violence, ransacking, vandalising public and private properties and mob-attacks on policemen could not be allowed to go unchecked. “Those responsible must be dealt with in accordance with the law, and the govt cannot be allowed to abdicate its responsibility,” he said.
He said this week’s naked violence shows that the selected regime has dragged the country into a deadly quagmire, where no one is safe. “Under the PTI regime, even the police seem to be in need of protection, as the government has abandoned the people,” he said.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the PPP sympathised with the martyred policemen as well as the innocent people who lost their lives in violence in Punjab and other parts of the country and stressed for best possible medical facilities to those wounded.
Meanwhile in Lahore, life on first of Ramazan remained gloomy due to the ongoing violent protest of TLP activists even on third consecutive day on Wednesday.
The traffic on main roads and roundabouts of the city remained interrupted though the number and magnitude of protests in the provincial capital by a religious organisation against the arrest of their main leader Saad Rizvi was reduced by law enforcement agencies.
Despite crackdown and action by police and paramilitary forces, the protestors during the day kept on blocking the road at 13 points of the city. During previous two days (Monday, Tuesday), they had blocked the road at over 22 points in the city. Entry and exit points of the city, motorways and highways remained cleared on the day. However in the evening, the number of protest sites decreased to seven only. Police also registered over 40 FIRs against the protestors for their violent actions including another murder FIR against Saad Rizvi and others for murder of a police constable Ali Imran in Gujjarpura.
On Wednesday, a group of protestors attacked the emergency gate of Lahore General Hospital. The suspects were chasing policemen. They ran to the basement of hospital building for shelter. The protestors followed them and attacked the hospital.
Few skirmishes between police and the protestors were reported at Babu Sabu interchange, Ring Road, Chungi Amar Sadhu and other points of the city. At few points like Shanghai Bridge Chungi Amar Sadhu, the protestors broke down tuff tiles to use as stones against police. They also punctured trucks and vehicles to park at roads to close these down for traffic.
The 13 points that remained closed during the day for traffic included Chungi Amar Sidhu (both sides), Bhatta Chowk, New Shadbagh chowk, Darogawala, Yateem Khana Chowk, Karol Ghatti Ring Road(both sides), Scheme Mor, Samana Bad Mor, Taaj pura 2wd Mughal pura(both side), Babu Sabu Chowk and others. In the evening, the points that remained blocked for traffic included Bhatta Chowk, Chungi towards Kasur, Shadbagh chowk, Daroghawala GT Road, Ring Road, Mor Samanabad towards Chowk Yateem Khana and Yateem Khana chowk and Scheme Mor.
Meanwhile, Lahore Police held a flag march for the second consecutive day that passed through different roads of the provincial capital. CCPO Lahore Ghulam Mehmood Dogar led the march. It was joined by senior police officers DIG Investigations, Operations, and SPs.