ISLAMABAD/RAWALPINDI: Religious parties and other groups on Friday staged demonstrations and brought out rallies in Rawalpindi and Islamabad against the acquittal of Aasia Bibi in a blasphemy case.
The Rawalpindi police arrested over 245 protesters on the charges of violating Section 144 and holding rallies and protests.
Though Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) started the protests across the country on Wednesday, some religio-political parties tried to show their presence on Friday.
Police in Rawalpindi arrest over 245 people on charges of violating Section 144 and holding rallies
The government had ruled out any operation to get the roads back from the protesters in order to avoid conflict. It even allowed Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) to offer Friday prayers at D-Chowk.
The capital administration not only allowed the party to arrange the congregation in the Red Zone but also removed containers blocking Jinnah Avenue to facilitate the participants.
JUI-F’s negotiations with the capital administration were led by Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) parliamentarians, including Senator Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri. A majority of the participants were students and teachers of seminaries.
The protest-cum-Friday prayers at D-Chowk facing the Parliament House ended with raising of political slogans against Prime Minister Imran Khan. The protesters later left the site peacefully.
The capital also witnessed protests and fiery speeches during Friday prayers in various mosques.
A protest demonstration was also held at Aabpara by a proscribed sectarian party.
The main protest by TLP continued at Faizabad where the religious group organised Friday prayers.
Meanwhile, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry negated reports of an operation against the protesters and claimed that the law and order situation in the country was under control.
In a tweet, Mr Chaudhry said the government did not want to use force against the protesters. He said Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri was holding negotiations with the protesters.
Despite the imposition of Section 144 in Rawalpindi, protest rallies were also taken out by activists of religious parties.
A protest rally was taken out in Bank Colony within the limits of the Saddar Bairooni police which was led by Qari Naveed. Hundreds of students from seminaries participated in the rally.
The participants were holding placards and banners and chanting slogans against the government and judges.
The rally was later joined by another rally led by Qari Abdul Rasheed. The participants then marched towards Faizabad to join the main protest there.
Another rally was taken out on Adiala Road by members of the civil society and a religious group. They were also chanting slogans and marched towards Faizabad.
Shabab-i-Milli leader Mufti Mohammad Hanif Qureshi led a protest rally from Jamia Masjid Syeda Amna in Dhoke Ali Akbar to Faizabad after Friday prayers.
TLP Saddar chapter brought out a rally from Jamia Mohammadia Ziaul Uloom.
The rally was led by Pir Syed Ziaul Haq Shah and Sahibzada Ahsanul Haq and attended by seminary students, traders and members of civil society.
The rally participants marched on Murree Road and were joined by various small rallies before it joined the sit-in at Faizabad.
Rallies were also taken out in Chakra, Misrial Road, Saddar, Pirwadhai, Fauji Colony, Dhoke Syedan, Bakra Mandi, Morgah, Kutchery, Jhanda Chichi, Raja Bazaar, Dhoke Kashmirian, Dhoke Hassu, Dhoke Elahi Bux, Sadiqabad and Shakrial.
The Rawalpindi police arrested over 245 protesters on charges of violating Section 144.
As many as 28 FIRs were registered with different police stations across the district.
Besides, the police sought detention orders for about 20 active members of TLP who the police believed could create law and order situation.
G.T. Road was blocked by protesters at Gujar Khan and long queues of trucks loaded with fruits and vegetables remained parked along the road for about two days.
Protest demonstrations were also held in Murree, Kotli Sattian and other areas.
The rallies were attended by activists of religious and political parties, trader organisations and other segments of society.
Published in Dawn, November 3rd, 2018