LAHORE: Lahore police launched a major ‘preventive operation’ across the city and arrested 250 activists and workers of the proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan amid intelligence reports that they might take to the streets after Friday prayers.
All the six divisional superintendents of police (SPs) deployed force in their respective jurisdiction following reports from civil intelligence agencies that TLP activists might launch “another movement” from Lahore, their stronghold.
Most of the arrests were made from Chungi Amar Sidhu/Shangai Chowk area in Cantonment division, the second hub of the TLP after Yateem Khana Chowk.
Lahore Operations Police DIG Sohail Chaudhry supervised the crackdown that was initiated late on Thursday and ended after Friday prayers, an official privy to the information told Dawn.
He said the police were alerted when reports started pouring in that TLP’s ‘leftover’ leaders/workers had started taking to the streets on Thursday evening. Carrying batons, a TLP group forcibly closed some markets on Hall Road on Thursday evening.
Similarly, other groups blocked the Dolat Khan Road and Shahdara Chowk the same night. The police and Rangers arrested 23 miscreants and got the two points cleared.
The Shahdara police lodged cases against them under the Anti-Terrorism Act on Thursday night.
The law-enforcement agencies also responded to emergency calls of road blocks at Ichhra, Babu Sabu and some other parts of the city the same night.
The official said the prime focus of the law-enforcement agencies on Thursday was the Shangai Chowk, for being the most troubled point as hundreds of hardcore workers and fourth schedulers reside in the vicinity.
Recalling the last TLP protest in April this year, he said thousands of Tehreek activists had paralysed life in Shangai Chowk area for four days and did not allow even critical patients to reach the General Hospital.
“They had then closed streets, forcing the people to stay indoors, attacked citizens, burnt and smashed a large number of vehicles and ransacked those shops which were open.”
They had also interrupted food supply to hundreds of families living near the Shangai Chowk. The life later returned to normal after the security forces uprooted mega protest camp of the TLP after fierce clashes, taking back control of both sides of the Ferozepur Road at the Shangai Chowk.
In the second such major operation launched late on Thursday, Lahore Cantt division operations SP Essa Sukhera, DSP Ghulam Dastghir and SHOs of several police stations took part in the crackdown at Chungi Amar Sidhu.
Consequently, the police arrested 120 activists and leaders of the proscribed TLP from Chungi Amar Sidhu and its surroundings. The Saddar and City divisions arrested 59 and 40 workers, respectively.
Surprisingly, the police made arrests of only three activists from the Iqbal Town division, which housed the TLP headquarter called Jamia Masjid Rahmatul Lil Aalamin.
The Model Town division police arrested 21 while the Civil Lines division took into custody seven activists.
Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2021