Workers of outlawed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) on Sunday stormed a police station near the party’s headquarters in Lahore and abducted half a dozen policemen including a deputy superintendent of police (DSP), in a fresh wave of violence sparked after arrest of the party chief last week.
“Today in the early morning, miscreants attacked Nawankot Police Station where Rangers and police officers were trapped inside the police station and [the] DSP Nawankot [Mohammad Umer Farooq was] kidnapped and taken [to] the [TLP] markaz," said a brief statement issued by the provincial police.
“The miscreants were armed and attacked the Rangers/police with petrol bombs. [The] police and Rangers pushed them back and took back the possession of the police station,” it added.
The police later launched an operation at the TLP headquarters to rescue the abducted officials.
“[The] police did not plan or conduct any operation against the mosque or the madrassa. The action, if any, was in self defence and to protect public property,” the statement added.
According to the TLP, a heavy contingent of police assisted by the Pakistan Rangers “attacked” their markaz and its adjacent mosque and used heavy tear-gas shelling, while baton-charging their activists.
The TLP also accused the police of resorting to live firing and use of chemical infected water to disperse the activists. “This raid resulted in deaths of their activists while causing injury to several of others,” the outlawed party claimed.
The police, however, faced a stiff resistance from party workers who managed to repel the law enforcers while injuring at least 20 of them. Punjab Police spokesperson Rana Arif later confirmed that the police had failed to rescue the officials held hostage during storming of the police station.
Though there was a complete ban on the coverage of any news related to the TLP, the social media was abuzz with some horrific videos of torture, deaths and violence.
A video of DSP Mohammad Umer Farooq also went viral. With bandages around his head, he could be seen appealing to the government to resolve the matter through dialogue. Farooq said he received the injuries when faced a violent group of protestors after the authorities launched the operation.
The DSP narrated the events that led to him being taken hostage. He asked the government to “honour” its deal with the TLP and to expel the French envoy in protest against alleged blasphemy in France.
“Three people to my right have so far been martyred whereas scores are injured,” he said before he requested the government to try and resolve the situation amicably. “We are all Muslims, and our common enemy is France which committed blasphemy,” the DSP said in the video.
In some other videos making the rounds on social media, heavy contingents of police could be seen moving ahead while taking cover behind armoured vehicles.
In a video, the protestors displayed a pile of hundreds of empty tear gas shells that police apparently fired at the protestors. In another video, the spilling of chemical infected water in the surrounding of the TLP markaz was shown.
In another video, the TLP workers were seen shifting a “deceased” on a charpoy, while chanting slogans against the PTI government. A video showed the inner scene of the mazkaz that presented the look of the emergency of a hospital with dozens of people lying on the floor and crying for help.
The TLP accused the authorities of refusing medical care to the injured. A TLP leader while addressing the protestors said that hundreds of their injured activists were inside the markaz but the authorities had barred ambulances to shift them to the hospital.
A TLP leader, Shafiq Amini, has announced that the deceased would not be buried until the French ambassador is expelled from the country.
The government on Thursday, April 15, decided to approach the apex court seeking the dissolution of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) after the federal cabinet outlawed the group under the country’s anti-terrorism law.
The cabinet’s approval of a summary to ban the TLP came in the wake of thousands of its activists and supporters staging violent protests for three straight days across the country over the arrest of their leader.
Armed with sticks, canes and in some instances guns, they went on a rampage, causing loss of life and damaging properties worth millions of rupees.
After imposing the ban, the government also decided to circulate another summary among members of the federal cabinet for the dissolution of TLP on April 16, saying the matter would then be taken to the Supreme Court.
“We tried our best to solve the issues [with TLP] through negotiations but they had extremely dangerous intentions and weren’t agreeing to go back on their agenda for April 20 [march],” Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid, accompanied by Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Minister Noorul Haq Qadri, explained at a news conference in the federal capital.
“Accepting demands like expelling ambassadors could lead to an extremely difficult situation for the country,” he added, referring to the TLP seeking the expulsion of the French envoy over blasphemous caricatures.
Rashid said all ministers had signed the summary seeking their approval for declaring the TLP a proscribed organisation.