Crowd dispersal strategy: Police detain TLYR protestors during food breaks


ISLAMABAD: Islamabad police, in an astonishing move to disperse workers of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) rally on Saturday, has started detaining workers from food stalls and washrooms during food breaks.

From among hundreds of arrested protesters, police had been successful in confining more than 80 people, mostly carrying out security duty at the TLYR rally, in various police stations, including Kohsar, Aabpara and Secretariat.

A station house officer, while requesting anonymity, said that he had been directed by the high-ups to detain each protester who go for food, to the toilet or on cigarette break, and lock them up in the respective police stations.

He said, “By doing so, the police have managed to round up dozens of clerics and their supporters in different police stations, where they are threatened to quit the rally voluntarily or face litigation.” As a result, at least 80 protestors have left the rally and returned home, he added.

Another police official told Pakistan Today that there were now only around 100 protesters left in the Khatam-e-Nabuwat rally, which had staged a sit in on Jinnah Avenue on Thursday. “The remaining participants will also leave the protest soon as there are no arrangements for night stay,” he said.

It is important to mention here that police have not booked any single cleric or their supporters, let alone register a case against any of them. Police officials said that this strategy was being adopted because they were not deployed there to make arrests but to tackle the protestors in a “technical” way.

The rally left Lahore on Tuesday and reached Islamabad on Thursday. A stringent security plan was chalked out for the rally, including the deployment of thousands of police personnel in the capital city.

Earlier, in an unsuccessful bid to gather mass support for its movement, the TLYR was able to gather around 300 people to participate in the rally. The participants, who were travelling in dozens of vehicles, had announced to lay a siege on the Parliament House if their demands were not met.

Around 600 protesters arrived at Faizabad on Wednesday night, with expectations that their numbers would increase once they were inside Islamabad. However, their numbers decreased to 300 following their march up to China Chowk on Jinnah Avenue, which they were allowed to do on Thursday after negotiations with the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration.

The protesters have announced to enter the capital’s Red Zone, which houses the Parliament House, Supreme Court and other key state institutions, apart from the diplomatic enclaves. Around 5,000 personnel from Islamabad Police, Punjab Police, Frontier Constabulary, Rangers and Special Branch officials were deployed at the capital to tackle untoward situations and prevent the entry of the protesters into the Red Zone at all costs. The police and the ICT administration had sealed off the capital’s Red Zone with shipping containers.

The protesters’ main demand from the government was to identify and punish the responsible persons behind the recent change of wording in the declaration of Khatam-e-Nabuwat Ordinance, or finality of the Prophethood, in election laws. The protesters claimed that the change was a conspiracy to weaken the oath of Khatam-e-Nabuwat for politicians.

Later, the change was immediately withdrawn and the declaration restored to its original form when the objection was raised in the first place.

The demonstrators also demanded that Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah should be de-seated due to his recent pro-Ahmedi statements, and that diplomatic relations with Burma should be cut down due to the atrocities on Rohingya Muslims.

Furthermore, they demanded that the recent court verdict on a girl, who was accused of blasphemy and who successfully managed to leave the country, should be implemented and a committee should be formed to monitor alleged conspiracies being hatched by Ahmedis.

The rally was being led by TLYR Chairman Muhammad Asif Ashraf Jalali. Jalali was recently proscribed from entering Islamabad by the ICT administration in the month of Muharram. Muhammad Shahdab Raza, Syed Naveed Alhassan Mushadi, Ameen Allah Siyalvi, Gazi Saqib Shakeel and Abdul Rasheed Awaisi were also among the participants.

Meanwhile, another religious group, led by Khadim Hussain Rizvi, had also announced to hold a march from Lahore to Islamabad on November 6, pertaining to the same issue. Rizvi was also among those clerics who were banned from entering the federal capital.