–Dozens of Labbaik activists arrested in crackdown against religious miscreants in several cities
ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Law enforcement agencies continued on Monday a crackdown against ‘miscreants’ involved in damaging public and private property after the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Aasia Bibi case, however no effort has yet been made to arrest the protest leaders, Khadim Hussain Rizvi and Pir Afzal Qadri, despite cases registered against them two days ago.
In Islamabad, police arrested at least 18 people and identified another 30 for vandalism during the protests called by Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).
After the Supreme Court’s Oct 31 judgement acquitting Aasia Bibi, TLP launched countrywide protests, bringing several cities to a standstill for three days.
In Lahore, police lodged cases against the protesters. In Nawabshah, two TLP leaders and dozens of protesters were arrested for violence and hate speech, while more than 2,500 unidentified men as well as nine leaders of different religious parties – including the TLP and the Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl – were booked for destroying state property and promoting violence in Gujranwala.
In addition to that, 170 rioters have been arrested from Sheikhupura.
“In Sheikhupura, the rioters had not only damaged property but clashed and wounded 34 policemen,” officials said.
Another four cases were registered in Attock while 17 TLP leaders were also charged for violence in Jehlum as police continued making arrests.
In Karachi, Sindh Police detained two men on charges of inciting violence and causing harm to public property while cases were also registered against 12 others.
The crackdown came as the government released footage of the rioters torching vehicles, blocking roads and vandalising public and private property.
The government was able to strike a ‘deal’ with the TLP leadership after three days of rioting, and the protests were called off. The party leadership ‘apologised’ for offending anyone during the sit-ins, claiming that their members and supporters were only staging peaceful demonstrations, but some unknown offenders caused disruptions.
The government later announced that it would not spare those involved in rioting. The Ministry of Interior issued orders to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the police to take action against any person identified as a miscreant.
The government has also established a complaint cell to collect videos of miscreants involved in damaging property and harassing citizens.
According to the Ministry of Interior, citizens can share pictures and videos of those involved in damaging state and private property by WhatsApping on 0331 5480011. The ministry has assured that the name and number of citizens who share pictures and videos of violent protesters will be kept confidential.
Earlier, the Interior Ministry had released initial pictures of the miscreants involved in vandalising property and harming common citizens during the demonstrations.
On Saturday, the Interior Ministry assured action against elements involved in destroying properties and harming citizens. The ministry said it was in the process of identifying such elements and that action will be taken against them.
The same day, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi and senior leader Afzal Qadri were booked on charges of rioting and disrupting peace in various parts of Lahore.
At least 500 TLP leaders and supporters, including firebrand cleric Khadim Rizvi and Afzal Qadri, were booked in 11 different cases under charges of causing agitation among the masses, blocking roads and vandalism in Lahore.
Two cases were also lodged in the federal capital on charges of damaging public and private properties as well as violating section 144.
The countrywide demonstrations by TLP and other religio-political parties, which erupted on Wednesday after the Supreme Court announced acquitting Aasia Bibi, had left major highways — including the motorway connecting Lahore and Islamabad — blocked and routine life paralysed in major cities.
Mobile services in major cities had also been suspended.
The protests had come after Prime Minister Imran Khan issued a forceful rebuke to the TLP in a nationally-televised address in the ruling’s wake, saying the government would not tolerate violent protests.
On Friday, the government and the TLP signed a deal to conclude the latter’s nationwide protest. One of the major concessions the government agreed to was to “initiate the legal process” to place Aasia Bibi’s name on the ECL [Exit Control List].
The state had also assured the party that it would not oppose a review petition filed against the Supreme Court’s judgement in the Aasia Bibi blasphemy case.
The government further promised to take appropriate legal action to redress any deaths that may have occurred during the protests against the Aasia Bibi verdict and to release all people picked up in connection with the protests starting October 30.
The TLP, in turn, only offered an apology “if it hurt the sentiments or inconvenienced anyone without reason”.