LAHORE: The Lahore deputy commissioner on Saturday issued orders for the release of Hafiz Saad Rizvi, leader of the banned Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), after the government withdrew its reference for extension in his detention.
“I, deputy commissioner Lahore, allow the release of Hafiz Saad Hussain Rizvi s/o Khadim Hussain Rizvi with immediate effect,” stated the order issued by DC Mohammad Umer Sher.
A source in the chief minister office said Rizvi, being listed in the Fourth Schedule, was required to furnish surety bonds to the police to secure his release. However, he said, the government could use other legal options to keep Rizvi in custody even after submission of the bonds. There were dozens of first information reports registered against workers of the TLP, he added.
TLP’s central executive committee warned the government against keeping Rizvi in detention despite multiple court orders. It said the government would be responsible for the consequences if Rizvi was not released.
High alert issued as Saad’s supporters gather outside jail
Late into the night, high alert was declared in the city after TLP workers took to the streets and gathered outside the Kot Lakhpat Jail demanding immediate release of Rizvi.
However, police authorities declared the activity of the TLP activists illegal, unlawful and uncalled-for, saying that the Anti-Terrorism Court had made mandatory the provision of surety bond of for the release of Rizvi which was not provided by him to the authorities concerned so far.
A heavy contingent of the police was deployed outside the Kot Lakhpat Jail to prevent any law and order situation and 40 reserves were put on high alert when required to respond to the emergency.
The TLP leaders announced a march towards the office of the Lahore Capital City Police Officer to mount pressure on the authorities for the release of Rizvi. However, the police high ups held a meeting with the lawyers of the TLP chief and managed to defuse tension.
Earlier in the day, the federal review board headed by Justice Maqbool Baqar held its hearing on the government’s reference through video link from Islamabad. Rizvi was produced at the Lahore registry of the Supreme Court amid strict security arrangements.
The government’s lawyer and officials failed to satisfy the board’s queries about filing the reference after a Lahore High Court’s single bench set aside Rizvi’s detention.
Justice Baqar observed that the government should have filed an appeal against the high court’s decision instead of filing the reference.
At this, the government withdrew its reference and the board disposed of the matter.
The government had detained the TLP leader for 90 days under Section 11-EEE of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 on July 10 after a provincial review board turned down its request to extend the detention of the cleric under Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance 1960. The board had found mala fide and contradiction in the government’s stance on Rizvi’s detention.
Later, Rizvi’s parental uncle, Ameer Hussain, had assailed the second detention before the LHC, which set aside the same on Oct 1.
The next day the government instead of complying with the LHC order got the detention extended for a month through the federal review board.
His first detention had come after TLP staged sit-ins across the country demanding the government expel the French ambassador after the government of President Emmanuel Macron expressed support for a magazine’s right to republish blasphemous caricatures. The protesters had turned violent and attacked police personnel.
Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2021