TLP claims crackdown halted, workers released

Published November 7, 2018
In this file photo supporters of the TLP sit on containers set up to block a street during the protests. — AFP/File
In this file photo supporters of the TLP sit on containers set up to block a street during the protests. — AFP/File

LAHORE: After the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) threatened to restart its movement, the Punjab government, in a late night meeting, assured the party that it would not only stop arresting workers but start releasing already arrested ones, says TLP spokesman Peer Zubair Ahmed.

The Punjab government, however, says it was more of a “follow-up meeting” and that the authorities were very clear about whom they were arresting.

Talking to Dawn, the TLP spokesman said the party had allowed the Punjab government to arrest miscreants because they did not belong to the Tehreek.

“The TLP never allowed any kind of violence. However, in the garb of arresting miscreants, the Punjab government started arresting its workers,” he explains.

No compromise on violence, says govt

The arrests, he said, were in total violation of the agreement signed by the federal and Punjab governments on Friday night, leaving the TLP with no choice but to issue a call for protest and blockages and it was about to do so when the Punjab government invited them to a marathon meeting, lasting around four hours.

He said Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Raja Muhammad Basharat and Additional Inspector General (police) Azhar Hameed represented the government.

According to the government side, says Zubair, it had already stopped arresting people since Monday afternoon and it was ready to release all of them, along with those arrested during the three-day protest within next 24 hours.

“As per fresh agreement, the Punjab government was supposed to release all of them by Tuesday evening. We are in the process of collecting information how many of them have been released so far. According to information from Sheikhupura, 90 workers, out of total 110 arrested, have already been released. Once we collect information from the entire province, we would return to the government to release them all, if anyone is still left,” he said.

According to the TLP information, children of eight to 10 years old were arrested in Lahore. In certain cases, houses were ransacked and women folk insulted.

“In view of the situation, the TLP was readying for fresh call when the Punjab government jumped in to preempt the situation and refreshed its commitment to the original agreement and promised to stick to it in letter and spirit. The party is waiting for the government to fulfill its promise.”

Confirming the meeting, Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan said it was more of a “follow-up meeting,” after the Friday agreement between the TLP and the government.

“The Punjab government is very clear about whom it was arresting and whom it was not. It has only been arresting the people it has some kind of evidence with it — television or mobile clips or any other kind of solid evidence.”

He said as far those who were involved in violence, the government would not compromise come what may. But it was not arresting those who remained peaceful.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2018

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