Punjab Rangers called in as govt gears up to stop TLP from marching towards Islamabad

Shahid Aslam Special Correspondent - Lahore

28th Oct, 2021. 09:10 am

Web Desk BOL News

28th Oct, 2021. 09:10 am

TLP supporters at Muridke on October 24, 2021. Photo: AFP

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: As the outlawed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan marches towards Islamabad, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid announced on Wednesday that the government has called the Punjab Rangers to maintain the law and order situation.

“Rangers have been called in to maintain law and order situation in Punjab under Article 147 for 60 days at the request of the provincial government,” said Rashid in a news conference.

The interior minister said that the rangers will assist the provincial authorities in maintaining law and order. We cannot leave the people at the mercy of violent members of the TLP, added Rashid.

He said the government is committed to its agreement with the TLP, but it cannot expel the French envoy as the severing of diplomatic ties with the international community will create more problems for Pakistan.

Four policemen martyred as clashes intensify

At least four police personnel were martyred with scores of people injured as clashes between police and TLP workers intensified on Wednesday.

The situation took an ugly turn soon after the banned outfit announced to continue their march towards Islamabad while demanding of the govt to expel the French ambassador and free their detained leader Saad Rizvi.

“Firing on police by banned outfit is highly condemnable and has martyred four policemen and injured 253 cops,” said Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar on Twitter.

The CM assured that strict action will be taken against those involved and will be dealt with as per the law. The government will fulfil its responsibility of maintaining law and order in the province, vowed the CM.

A police spokesman told Bol News that ASI Muhammad Akbar from Kasur was among the cops martyred.

Meanwhile, the TLP has also claimed deaths and injuries of its workers in the clashes with police near Sadhoke, some 25 kilometres from Lahore. However, The TLP’s claims could not be verified from independent sources.

Soon after TLP announced to continue their march towards Islamabad, the police fired tear gas on the protesters. Police sources claimed that protesters had attacked their contingents with petrol bombs.

The TLP started their march from Lahore on October 22 and at least three police personnel had already died by Sunday whereas over 100 were injured before they reached Muridke.

Internet service has also been suspended in Gujranwala and nearby areas. According to sources, the district administration of Gujranwala also called in the Rangers to assist police in dealing with the TLP march which is heading towards Gujranwala.

TLP leaders accuse Sheikh Rashid of lying

Earlier on Wednesday, TLP’s central committee accused the interior minister of lying to the nation that matters between the protesters and the government had been settled.

The committee had vowed that the protesters would leave Muridke for their final destination Islamabad.

In a statement issued by the group’s central committee on Wednesday, TLP leader Syed Sarwar Shah Saifi criticised Rashid that he also lied about contacting the group at 8pm.

“From then until now, no government official, including Sheikh, has contacted [us],” the TLP leader said, adding, “Let the entire nation see the malicious intent of the government.”

On Tuesday, Rashid had said that the government did not have any “reservations” on the TLP’s demands and there was agreement on all issues except the matter of expelling the French ambassador. He reiterated that the government and TLP had reached an agreement on all other issues and that he would contact the group again at 8pm.

After the Minister announced that the government could not meet the TLP’s demand for expulsion of the French ambassador, the party had said its activists would now march onto Islamabad.

Regarding the expulsion, Saifi said that France had committed blasphemy at the government level and the TLP thus expected an official response from the incumbent government.

“Are these claimants of the state of Madina unable to respond to France? Have they become so enslaved to the Jews and the Christians?” the statement said.

The statement called upon the government to fulfil its agreement of expelling the French ambassador, saying that the group had abided by the agreement and was given three days, despite losing several lives.

According to the statement, the TLP leader said the demands would increase if more bloodshed is caused and the nation would get “rid of this dishonest, lying and hypocritical government”. He said it would be better if the agreement was abided by and TLP chief Saad Hussain Rizvi was released.

“Don’t lie to the nation. No negotiations are being done with us. The government is not sincere in negotiations but if more blood is shed now, revenge will be taken,” the statement reads.

It further criticised the prime minister, saying that he had nothing to do with the nation. “The people should know that these faithless are neither loyal to the country nor the nation and the ‘captain’ is planted in the country for discord and chaos.”