- Anti-terror court shelves three cases against TLP chief Khadim Rizvi, aides for indefinite period
- Rizvi has been declared proclaimed offender in 14 cases yet Punjab Police has expressed its inability to arrest the fiery cleric
ISLAMABAD: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Monday shelved three cases against Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi and others over their involvement in cases related to the last year’s Faizabad sit-in.
The Labbaik leader along with other religious activists are facing multiple charges, including terrorism, in several cases that were registered in 26 police stations across the federal capital after the Faizabad protests.
The development comes days after the Punjab government capitulated to the demands of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) after the handful of supporters of TLP leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi, took to streets. The organisation had called off protests after being assured that the cases against its leadership, including Rizvi and Pir Afzal Qadri, and workers would be dropped, and the Faizabad agreement would be implemented.
Following negotiations, an FIR [First Information Report] was registered regarding the deaths of TLP activists killed during the sit-in while a number of arrested activists were released.
The court proceedings against the leaders of a religious party were halted by ATC Judge Shahrukh Arjumand upon the petition filed by the prosecution.
The prosecutor, in a petition, said that police are investigating cases from the scratch and after the completion of the investigation the police will file a new challan.
The prosecutor pleaded with the court to halt the proceedings till the new challan is filed. The court approved the prosecution’s petition and postponed the case indefinitely.
Earlier this month, an ATC and civil courts had issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Khadim Hussain Rizvi along with other absconding suspects in 14 cases related to the Faizabad sit-in held last year.
Shahrukh Arjumand had issued arrest warrants in five cases regarding the Islamabad protests that were registered in the I-9 police station after Rizvi and other suspects refused to appear in court for the hearing.
A civil court had also issued arrest warrants in nine cases lodged in the Industrial Area police station.
Religious parties held a sit-in at Faizabad Interchange in the federal capital following the passage of the Elections Act 2017, which they believed deliberately modified the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat oath as part of some conspiracy. The amendment to the oath had been explained as a ‘clerical error’ by the government and subsequently rectified through an Act of Parliament.
Nonetheless, the protesters had occupied the Faizabad Interchange, which connects Rawalpindi and Islamabad through the Islamabad Expressway and Murree Road — both of which are the busiest roads in the twin cities.
Rizvi was one of the central figures of the protests that disrupted life in the twin cities for nearly 20 days.
The government had initiated several rounds of negotiations with the protesters, but failed each time.
The sit-in lasted nearly three weeks and culminated after an operation to end the protest by the government failed, following which the army brokered an ‘agreement’ between the state and the protesters, the terms of which included the resignation of former law minister Zahid Hamid.
The agreement had been seen as a complete surrender by the state to the protesters.