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ISLAMABAD/RAWALPINDI: The capital police on Wednesday detained six local leaders of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) on the directives of the capital administration, while police in the Rawalpindi division arrested more than 90 workers of several religious parties, including local TLP leaders.

TLP had announced a protest against the dismissal of the appeal against the acquittal of Aasia Bibi on Tuesday. The capital was put on high alert on Wednesday to counter any law and order situation and disperse gatherings.

The Red Zone and sensitive installations were secured by law enforcement agencies and paramilitary troops. Patrolling was conducted in the city as well.

“Six people affiliated with the TLP were identified in Special Branch reports,” an official of the capital administration said, and it was believed that they may gather people and lead a mob into violent protest.

The six leaders were detained and put behind bars as a preventative measure, the official said. They will be produced in the court of a magistrate on Thursday for further legal action.

The capital administration had called for 12 companies of Rangers and deployed hundreds of police officials including from the Security Wing, Counter Terrorism Force, Anti Riot Unit, Quick Response Force and commandoes in various parts of the city, including in the Diplomatic Enclave and Faizabad.

Police teams were also deployed at Rawat, Tarnol, Bhara Kahu and the Expressway.

An operation was conducted by police in the Rawalpindi division during which 90 workers from various religious parties, including TLP Rawalpindi chapter’s president Rizwan Satti, were arrested.

The operation was conducted in Rawalpindi, Attock, Jhelum and Chakwal districts and was started the midnight on Wednesday after reports were received that religious parties were planning a sit-in at Faizabad to protest the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the appeal against Aasia Bibi’s verdict.

A senior official said 30 religious workers were taken into custody under section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance in Rawalpindi, 28 in Attock, four in Chakwal and 14 in Jhelum.

He said the majority of religious workers arrested were already implicated in various cases.

Syed Zaheer Hussain was arrested after he staged a protest demonstration against the SC’s dismissal of the petition against the Aasia Bibi verdict.

Arrests were made in Mandra, Wah Cantt, Rawat, Naseerabad and Ratta. An FIR each was registered with the Rawat and Wah Cantt police.

Two active TLP leaders, Allama Nisar Noori and Haji Ramzan Ali were detained by the police from Morgah.

However, no major reaction was noticed across the Rawalpindi division against the SC decision.

In October last year, TLP launched protests and sit-ins across the country after the SC overturned the death sentence awarded to Aasia Bibi by a trial court.

The protests were called off after TLP and the PTI government reached an agreement.

Later, a major crackdown was launched by law enforcement agencies in which main leaders of the party, including Khadim Rizvi, were arrested.

Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2019