LAHORE: Life returned to normal in Punjab after the police and the paramilitary forces early on Thursday uprooted another mega protest camp of the recently proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) at Shangi Chowk of Ferozepur Road, the stronghold of the organisation.
The operation was professionally handled and the security forces not only had both sides of the road of the city cleared amid brief resistance but also arrested hundreds of activists of the TLP. It was the second last major protest venue for the TLP in Punjab. More than 500 hardened and violent activists of the organisation had staged a sit-in at the intersection.
The Punjab police eradicated 91 protest camps of the TLP which were mostly set up on the leading roads, intersections and exit-entry points of the districts, creating problems for the masses. The TLP had taken to the street across the country especially in Punjab after its chief Saad Hussain Rizvi was detained by security forces in Lahore on Monday last.
Fierce scuffles broke out between the police and the activists of the TLP which made Punjab a battlefield. From amongst 36 districts, the provincial capital Lahore, Rawalpindi and Sheikhupura were the most troubled districts were hundreds of charged activists of the TLP had created law and order situation by making frequent attacks on the police and even the public.
Thousands of hooligans arrested after pitched battles in parts of Punjab
The last operation of the Pakistan (Punjab) Rangers and the anti-riot force of the city police was led by Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Ghulam Mahmood Dogar, an official told Dawn. He said the massively-equipped forces launched operation an hour before Sehri on Thursday by surrounding the entire vicinity. They first fired teargas to disperse the TLP supporters who had already arranged two trucks carrying thousands of bricks to offer strong resistance.
“We made arrests of 125 extremists of the TLP including its prime local leadership from the Shangi Chowk venue,” CCPO Ghulam Mahmood Dogar told this reporter. He said the forces got both sides of the leading roads cleared within half an hour of the operation.
“As many as 800 personnel of the Rangers and the police took part in the massive operation with the support of logistics including armoured vehicles and water cannons,”Mr Dogar said. He said the police before and after the operation kept house-to-house search in the adjoining localities of the protest venue from where the activists were getting support including the food. The localities included Chungi Amar Sidhu, Sitara Colony, Kacha Jail Road, and Main Bazaar.
He said out of the total 22 protest camps, 21 had been cleared by the Lahore police. The last one and main protest venue is at Yateem Khana Chowk and the police department was preparing to launch a crackdown there.
Another senior police official said that on the second day of the protest of the TLP, the Punjab police uprooted 60 camps out of 92 in Punjab. He said though TLP had reoccupied many of them next day, the police continued their operation.
On Thursday, there were only 20 protest venues of the TLP in Punjab which have now been cleared. He said the TLP had given tough time to the police in Rawalpindi, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Kasur, Faisalabad, Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Mianwali, Jhang, Mandi Bahauddin, Jhelum and Sialkot where they had launched massive agitation. He said the weak administration was reported in Pasrur tehsil of Sialkot where violent mob of TLP attacked the police station, damaged property, injured policemen including a DSP and also occupied the police building.
In another such incident in Mandi Bahauddin, the TLP men held up the SP investigation who was later rescued in a massive operation which was led by the DPO of the district.
The head of Rawalpindi police also led the operations in the city where a gathering of hundreds of charged activists was posing serious threats to the peace.
At Dina in Jhelum, a gathering of over 800 activists of the TLP offered strong resistance but the security forces got the road cleared from them in an operation. Sheikhupra was another stronghold of the organisation where the RPO and the DPO led the operations and brought life to normal by dispersing the protesters and making several arrests.
“The security forces arrested 3,000 extremists/activists of the TLP during the last four days,” the Punjab police spokesperson told Dawn. He said the RPOs, CPOs and DPOs set an example of bravery by leading operations in their respective areas and finally eradicated all the protest camps on Thursday.
He said under a strategy heavy deployment had been made in these areas for strong follow-up to ensure the writ of the state.
Published in Dawn, April 16th, 2021