Defying Lahore police, TLP march moves towards Islamabad

The Nation  |  Oct 24, 2021

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD - Defying police crackdown and removing large size ship containers, thousands of workers of the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) left Lahore for Islamabad on Saturday. Violent clashes broke out between police and the protesters on early Saturday as police lobbed tear gas shells into the crowd to disperse the protesters. A TLP spokesman Saturday claimed that five of their supporters died in the clashes during the last two days while at least two police officials were also killed.

“Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan lost two people Friday night and three more today to police firing,” the party tweeted on Saturday. TLP members began their journey on Friday with the goal of reaching the capital, Islamabad, to pressure the government to release Saad Rizvi, the party’s head.

According to a police spokesperson, the marchers had reached Muridke within the limits of Gujranwala district around 7:00 pm in the evening. Reportedly, the protesters were planning to use the Grand Trunk Road to reach Islamabad.

PM Imran Khan reaches Jeddah to perfrom Umrah In view of the development, the National Highways and Motorway Police (NHMP) said it was likely the district police would block the entry and exit points of the interchange. “We advise avoiding travel in the vicinity,” it said in a statement.

The clashes are still ongoing,” Arif Ali Rana, a spokesman for Lahore police told reporters here. He said the police were only doing shelling to control the crowd. Thousands of police and anti-riot units were deployed to prevent the demonstrators from leaving Lahore. The violence disrupted normal life in parts of Lahore, where residents were facing problems in reaching home because of the closure of some roads and continued clashes between police and TLP supporters.

Lahore is located about 350km (210 miles) from Islamabad, and most of the rally-goers are walking, although they had arranged buses and cars to reach the capital in a convoy.

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On Friday, two policemen died and several others injured in a clash with TLP workers. Two TLP workers who had sustained injuries during the clashes also passed away at Lahore’s Mayo Hospital, the hospital’s mortuary confirmed.

Earlier on Saturday, the Punjab Safe Cities Authority (PSCA) had issued a list of roads that were closed for traffic amid the tense situation in Lahore.

According to the PSCA, the closed routes included Dubai Chowk to Scheme Mor, Kharak to Scheme Mor, Liaquat Chowk to Scheme Mor, Gulshan Ravi to Yateem Khana, Samanabad to Yateem Khana, Bandar Road Shell Pump to Yateem Khana, Babau Sabu to Motorway, Shahdara Chowk, Sagian Bridge, Old Ravi Bridge, Moon Market to Scheme Mor, Bijli Ghar to Scheme Mor, district courts to Sagian, Data Darbar to Pir Makki and Lahore Ring Road. However, all routes are now functional for traffic, the Lahore DC confirmed.

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Also, The government has dug up a trench on GT Road near Gujranwala in response to an announcement by the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) that they will set out on a long march towards Islamabad.

A deep and long pit was dug with the help of cranes while the roads were also blocked in advance by placing containers. Thus, all paths via road leading to and from Gujranwala were blocked.

Meanwhile, a procession by the banned outfit, the participants of which began marching from Lahore, reached Sadoke. Earlier in the day, the government held talks with four members of the banned outfit, Minister for Law Punjab Raja Basharat said. The law minister’s statement came during a meeting of the committee formed for negotiations which was chaired by Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid.

The law minister informed the committee that in the last three days, the government has spoken to the banned outfit four times. On Saturday, at Lahore’s Batti Chowk, clashes between protesters and police continued for a second day, injuring six law enforcement personnel.

Rashid excels as England thrash West Indies in second T20 World Cup match Meanwhile, internet services are being restored gradually, the roads in the city are being reopened, however, Orange Line Metro Train is still closed — for four days now. In Rawalpindi, the stretch from 6th Road to Faizabad remains blocked. Containers have been placed on Murree Road, causing difficulties for commuters.

Hours after reaching Islamabad from Dubai, the interior minister accompanied by Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs Ali Amin Khan Gandapur reached Lahore to meet the functionaries of the provincial government before initiating any negotiations with the banned group. Minister for Religious Affairs Noor-ul-Haq Qadri had already reached the provincial capital to join the two federal ministers and make contacts with the Ulema and religious leaders to defuse the situation.

The banned TLP seeks release of their chief Saad Hussain Rizvi and expulsion of French ambassador to Islamabad besides implementation of the agreement already reached with the government in April this year.

Estranged PML-N MPA Nishat Daha passes away Meanwhile, a spokesperson of TLP announced its three-member committee headed by Mufti Muhammad Wazir Ali to negotiate with the government team. “We can talk if the government is serious in holding negotiations,” the spokesperson said in a statement adding that the other members are Allama Ghulam Abbas Faizi and Mufti Muhammad Umair-al-Zahri.

As reports emerged that the TLP long march has started its journey towards Islamabad, the Ministry of Interior requisitioned police and troops of paramilitary forces from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) to control the law and order situation in the capital. The ministry through separate letters made the requisition of additional security forces along with complete anti-riots gear.

On October 19, the banned TLP had announced to turn its main Eid Milad-un-Nabi (Peace Be Upon Him) rally in Lahore into a protest sit-in urging the government to fulfil its demands. The group said that it would announce its next curse of action if its demands were not met.

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