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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Clashes between banned TLP, police leave ‘few’ dead in Lahore

Clashes erupted between members of the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and police at Multan road in Lahore, leaving “a few” group supporters killed and more than 100 injured, sources said.

Sources said that 11 police officers were injured, including a Deputy Superintendent of Police and others held hostage by the rioters. A few TLP members were reportedly killed at the Markaz, but only two deaths have been confirmed so far.

Further, TLP leaders have asked that the members killed in the clash not to be buried unless their demands are met.

“TLP may begin its long march this evening which will further weaken the law and order situation,” a source said.

The clashes started on Sunday morning when members of the banned group gathered outside the party’s Saddar office and chanted slogans against the arrest of their chief Saad Hussain Rizvi.

“Violent clashes took place between TLP protesters and police and other security agencies at Chowk Yateem Khana in Lahore, the stronghold of TLP, since 8:30 a.m.,” said the source.

As security personnel, comprising both paramilitary Pakistan Rangers, and local police reached the spot, they came under attack and summoned reinforcements as bullets were fired and stones pelted. The local police said that Rizvi’s supporters attacked them with petrol bombs. It is also alleged that TLP members went berserk after firing.

The mob barged into the Nawankot police station and held DSP Umar Farooq, five constables, and two Rangers officials hostage for hours and also tortured them. After this, reinforcements were called again and huge deployment of police personnel was done at the protest sites as police believe that the protesters will again create ruckus later.

On last Monday, TLP supporters carried protests in major cities across the country for three long days, leaving hundreds of police officers injured. The demonstration came after its chief was arrested as a “pre-emptive measure”.

During the crackdown, police arrested thousands of TLP supporters and charged them for attacking police. On Thursday, the government formally banned the party.

The Interior Ministry notification stated that TLP “engaged in terrorism, acted in a manner prejudicial to the peace and security of the country”.

“The religious group intimidated the public, caused grievous bodily harm, hurt and death to the personnel of law enforcement agencies and innocent bystanders,” it added.

The group was proscribed under Section 11B (1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, empowering the government to ban an organization involved in terrorism.

Rizvi had threatened the government with widespread protests if it did not expel France’s Ambassador over depictions of Prophet Muhammad. He had called on the government to honour what he said was a commitment it made in February to TLP to expel the French envoy before April 20 over the publication in France of depictions of the Prophet.

Rizvi is the son of late Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who protested last year against sacrilegious sketches in France and demanded expulsion of French Ambassador. Later on, the protesters, led by him, dispersed peacefully after the government reportedly assured him that it would take action in the matter.

The TLP says that initially the government had assured to fulfill its promise of expelling the ambassador in February but later asked for time and finally agreed to fulfill its commitment by April 20.

Amid this, the French Embassy in Pakistan on Thursday had advised all French nationals and companies to temporarily leave the country, after violent anti-France protests paralysed large parts of the country this week.

“Due to the serious threats to French interests in Pakistan, French nationals and French companies are advised to temporarily leave the country,” the embassy had said in an email to French citizens.

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed.)

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