Eight protesters were arrested by Islamabad police from the Faizabad Interchange on Tuesday following minor skirmishes between police and members of the protest led by Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah Pakistan (TLY) and Sunni Tehreek (ST).
When a contingent of police and Frontier Corps (FC) personnel reached IGP Road and Islamabad Expressway on Tuesday morning, the protesters began to prepare for a possible crackdown and resorted to pelting stones as the contingent arrived near Faizabad.
The forces then arrested eight protesters — who are protesting a lack of punishment for those involved in making changes to the Khatm-i-Nabuwat declaration for electoral candidates — and lodged yet another case against the protesters in I-9 police station, taking the tally of cases against them to over a dozen.
The arrests stirred rumours that the law enforcement agencies had begun an operation against the protesters.
Police sources informed Dawn.com that they have been ordered to close in on the protesters, not allow any food or other supplies to pass and arrest any individual leaving the protest.
Meanwhile, a meeting chaired by Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has reportedly decided to give negotiations another chance and reach out to the protesters via PML-N leader Raja Zafarul Haq and State Minister for Religious Affairs and Inter-Faith Harmony Pir Aminul Hasnat.
Interior Ministry Spokesperson Yasir Shakeel, however, denied knowledge of any such meeting.
The organisers of the rally are demanding that the government fix responsibility for a recent amendment in the Khatm-i-Nabuwat declaration which was declared a clerical error by the government. Among the demonstrators' other demands are execution of the death sentence of Aasia Bibi — who was convicted for blasphemy in 2010 — and clarification of Rana Sanaullah's recent statements about Ahmedis.
Earlier in the day, the Islamabad High Court had also ordered to reverse in the Elections Act 2017 all amendments in sections pertaining to the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat oath.