LAHORE: The Punjab police has resented the federal government’s decision to once again go soft on the proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) by announcing the release of hundreds of its workers and withdrawing cases against others.
Police sources said their personnel sacrificed lives and were wounded while performing duties during violent protests by the TLP, but each time the government reconciled with the group, disregarding how police have been attacked and injured with petrol bombs, clubs and bricks, their vehicles set on fire, weapons and other gear snatched. This is besides the damage inflicted on public property.
The law enforcement agency was reacting to Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid’s statement that the government had released “350 TLP workers up to now and we are still waiting to open both sides of road of Muridke as per the decision with the TLP”. The minister had also promised to review the Fourth Schedule list containing names of the proscribed leaders and activists besides withdrawing all previous cases lodged against them.
A dejected deputy inspector general-rank officer blamed the ruling elite for pushing the police against the wall, and suggested: “The government would have to stand with either the law enforcers or the TLP. Its decision to release hundreds of TLP men under an immediate agreement has ignored the sacrifices policemen rendered and lives they lost during violent agitation of the organisation,” he lamented.
40 cases registered against top leaders, 5,000 fourth schedulers, hardcore activists
Since Sunday, the police has registered 40 cases against top leaders, 5,000 Fourth Schedulers and hardcore activists of the TLP under terrorism and multiple other charges. The entire second and third tier leadership of the banned organisation besides all the members of its Majalis-i-Shura was booked in first information reports (FIRs) in Lahore, Sheikhupura and Gujranwala districts.
Most of the fresh cases were lodged in Lahore (18) from where the group initiated a huge procession and created a major law and order situation. Of these, four FIRs each were registered by Shafiqabad and Nawankot police stations, two each by Shahdara and New Anarkali, while others by Iqbal Town, Millat Park, Sanda and Ravi Road etc.
The two FIRs by the New Anarkali police were registered separately on the complaints of Inspector Syed Zahid Hussain and Sub-Inspector Arshad Mahmood under the anti-terrorism act, murder, attempted murder, kidnap and five other heinous charges. The complainants nominated 75 top leaders of the TLP, including MPA Mufti Qasim Fakhri and its chiefs in Karachi, Balochistan, north Punjab, south Punjab, besides 200 workers, alleging that they attacked police with clubs and bricks on Oct 23 near the district courts.
They said the mob ransacked public property and set on fire several police vehicles near the Metro Bus track, while during the clashes head constable Muhammad Ayub and constable Khalid Javed lost their lives. Official weapons and protective gear were also snatched.
An assistant sub-inspector nominated 39 TLP leaders and 200 workers in the FIR lodged by Shafiqabad police under terrorism, attempted murder, kidnap and other charges. He alleged the TLP men injured many policemen and kidnapped some, took away anti-riot kits and committed terrorism publicly on Oct 23.
In the case registered by Sanda police, Sub-Inspector Waqas nominated 23 leaders of the proscribed group besides 5,000 workers and hardcore activists for attacking the police station, throwing petrol bombs at and injuring policemen, ransacking state property, and damaging vehicles parked in the Riwaz Garden checkpost. The nominated included the Masjid Rahmatul-Lil-Aalamin imam, TLP’s south Punjab and Lahore chiefs and all members of its Majalis-i-Shura.
A police official Ghulam Rasool complained in an FIR filed by the Ravi Road police that 11 TLP leaders and 150 workers attacked and injured policemen on GT Road and kidnapped constables Tanvir Ahmad and Iftikhar. Both the cops were later rescued.
The Shafiqabad police registered an FIR under terrorism, attempted murder and kidnap charges on the complaint of SI Shafqat Javed nominating 25 TLP leaders besides several other activists.
According to the FIR, the suspects took away eight mobile phones of police personnel and several official guns from Batti Chowk on Saturday. The violent mob chased police vans, set many of them on fire by throwing petrol bombs and also robbed parts of the official vehicles.
The Nawakot police nominated 23 TLP leaders and 260 workers in an FIR registered under terrorism and 10 other heinous charges on the complaint of a citizen. He accused the violent protesters of damaging his vehicle and taking it away.
Orange Line Metro Train Station Manager Attiqur Rehman also lodged an FIR with the Millat Park police under terrorism and other charges while nominating 22 TLP leaders and 50 workers. He alleged that most of the protesters were armed with lethal weapons when they attacked the metro station and damaged public property. He said the mob also hurled petrol bombs, fired in the air and stole several valuables.
Traffic warden Muhammad Tayyab lodged an FIR with the Iqbal Town police under terrorism and other sections alleging that the violent TLP protesters attacked him with clubs and kidnapped him on Oct 20 while he was performing his duty. He nominated nine leaders of the group and dozens of its workers.
Similarly, citizens and transporters also had cases lodged separately against TLP men for snatching their vehicles.
Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2021