ISLAMABAD: Police have arrested a suspect carrying 2kg of explosive material near Faizabad Interchange where a religious party has been staging a protest for nearly two weeks.
The motorcyclist was stopped by the police after he was seen moving towards the protest site using the wrong way on the Faizabad Interchange. He was taken into police custody near the I-8 Interchange in the federal capital earlier on Monday after he attempted to flee when he was asked to stop by the law enforcement agency.
The man, who belongs to the Batkhela tehsil of the Malakand district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was apprehended while in possession of heavy explosives. He was carrying 492 detonators, 196 dynamite sticks and 300-metre long safety fuses at a time when protesters belonging to rightist movements are camping in the area. The suspect denied involvement in a terror bid during the initial investigation.
Sources privy to the capital police have reported that the suspect has been moved to Abpara Police Station for interrogation while the bomb disposal squad took on the task to dismantle the explosives. The arrest comes at a time when the government is attempting to negotiate the Faizabad deadlock led by Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah and Sunni Tehreek who have taken offence of the controversial amendment in Elections Act 2017 that was approved earlier this year only to be reversed.
During the initial investigation, the suspect disclosed that he was transporting the explosives to an under construction housing society site. He told the police that the explosives were to be used to blast through rock to construct a road.
According to the police, the society’s owner — who provided the suspect with the material — has a valid license to buy explosive material for the purpose of construction. A case against the suspect will be registered as he was not following the guidelines for carrying detonators, said the police.
Earlier in the day, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said that the government did not want to resort to violence and bloodshed to remove the protesters but said there were conspirators who wanted that to happen. “Such elements,” he added, “wanted another incident like the Lal Masjid operation or the Model Town tragedy.”
Around 2,000 protesters are blocking the interchange, demanding the resignation of Law Minister Zahid Hamid for allegedly amending the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat clause in the Elections Act 2017. Protesting bodies that had directed their respective workers to camp on the outskirts of Islamabad in late October continue a sit-in protest until law minister Zahid Hamid gives in his resignation.
Last week, Parliament passed the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2017, seeking restoration of the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat [finality of Prophethood] clause to its original form. The minister reiterated that the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat law, rather than being compromised, had been bolstered.