LHC hints at releasing Khadim Rizvi on written assurance


–Rizvi is an innocent man sitting in jail, argues lawyer


LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday hinted at releasing the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi if he provides a written affidavit saying he would not create unrest in the society if released on bail.

In November 2018, Rizvi was taken into “protective custody” by police in Lahore after the law enforcement agencies launched a crackdown on TLP workers amid their call to observe martyrs day on November 25. Rizvi had reportedly asked workers and supporters to gather at Islamabad’s Faizabad — the same venue where the party had staged a weeks-long sit-in in November 2017 that had virtually paralysed the federal capital and led to several people losing their lives.

Rizvi’s arrest also came weeks after the TLP led three-day protests across the country against the acquittal of Aasia Bibi — a Christian woman whose blasphemy conviction was overturned by the apex court.

A two-member LHC bench headed by Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan on Monday directed the lawyers for the TLP chief and the state to present their arguments regarding the bail application on April 11.

Lahore High Court Bar Association Chairman Hafizur Rahman was among the lawyers representing Khadim Rizvi in court. Rahman assured the court that the TLP chief would not disrupt the law and order situation after his release on bail. “He is an innocent man sitting in jail,” he argued.

The bench, while remaining unconvinced, asked the lawyer what guarantee there was that Rizvi would not create unrest if granted bail. Subsequently, the bench ordered that a written guarantee from Rizvi should be provided to the court.

In November 2017, TLP workers demanding the resignation of then law minister Zahid Hamid had staged a weeks-long sit-in at the Faizabad interchange that had disrupted daily life in the federal capital and led to several deaths. The apex court had taken notice of the sit-in and directed the defence and interior secretaries to submit a detailed report on the matter.

Days later, the then PML-N government had launched against the protesters an operation which, when failed, had forced the authorities to cave and Hamid to resign.

In February, the top court gave its verdict on the suo motu case over the Faizabad sit-in. The judgement directed the federal government, law enforcers, intelligence agencies and the army’s media wing to operate within their mandate.