A day after the Islamist party Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) abducted 11 police officials in Lahore in Pakistan, it has now released the hostages following negotiations with the provincial government of Punjab.
On Monday (April 19), Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed confirmed the release of the 11 policemen. In a video message, he said, “Talks have started with the TLP. The first round went well and the second round will take place after sehri. They have released 11 policemen who were made hostages and have gone into the Rehmatul Lil Alameen Mosque (Yateem Khana Chowk). The police have also stepped back.”
He further added, “These negotiations were held successfully by the Punjab government. We hope that the second meeting after sehri will also prove fruitful and matters will be resolved amicably with the TLP.” It must be mentioned that a case was earlier registered against the TLP Islamists under the anti-terrorism law for abducting the cops. Lahore CCPO (Additional Inspector General) Ghulam Mehmood Dogar also took part in the negotiation process.
نیوز اپڈیٹ— Sheikh Rashid Ahmed (@ShkhRasheed) April 18, 2021
اسلام آباد: 19 اپریل
وفاقی وزیر داخلہ شیخ رشید احمد کا اہم ویڈیو پیغام جاری pic.twitter.com/kvXqVjWP9U
Contradictory claims about the number of police officials abducted
On Sunday, Punjab police spokesperson Rana Arif had informed that TLP extremists took 5 police officials hostage, including a Deputy superintendent of police (DSP). He emphasised that the DSP was brutally tortured by the workers of the now-banned outfit. In a statement on Sunday, the Punjab police had said, “Today in the early morning, miscreants attacked Nawankot Police Station where Rangers and Police officers were trapped inside the police station and DSP Nawankot kidnapped and taken to the markaz. At least one oil tanker with 50,000 litres of petrol has been taken by the miscreants to the markaz.”
It further added, “The miscreants were armed and attacked Rangers/ police with petrol bombs. Police and Rangers pushed them back and took back the possession of the police station. Police did not plan or conduct any action against the mosque or the madrassa. The action, if any, was in self-defence and to protect public property.”
However, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, the special assistant to the Punjab CM, had claimed in a tweet that the Islamists had abducted a total of 12 police officials and took them to the Markaz.
جہاں حملے کے لیے 50 ہزار لٹر کا آئل ٹینکر بھی رکھا گیا ہے۔ پولیس کی طرف سے کوئی آپریشن پلان یا شروع نہیں کیا گیا اور جوابی کارروائی صرف سیلف ڈیفینس اور مغوی پولیس اہلکاروں کو بچانے کی لیے کی گئی۔ اس سے پہلے ان جتھوں کے ہاتھوں 6 پولیس اہلکار شہید اور 700 سے زائد زخمی ہوچکے ہیں۔— Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan (@Dr_FirdousPTI) April 18, 2021
On April 15, the Imran-Khan government issued a notification declaring Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) as a ‘banned organisation.’ In its notification, the government said that it has ‘reasonable grounds’ to believe that the Islamist party is engaged in extremism, vandalism, peddling hatred, inflicting grievous harm, assaulting civilians and police officials. TLP thus became the 79th organisation banned in Pakistan.
TLP unleashes violence in Pakistan
Pakistan has been gripped in violence the past few days because TLP leader Saad Hussain Rizvi urged his followers through a video message on Sunday to protest and hit the roads against the government if the TLP’s demands are not fulfilled. This call for a countrywide protest led to his arrest at around 2 pm on Wahdat Road in Lahore. TLP has been demanding that Pakistan should expel the French ambassador to the country, in protest against France govt supporting the right of people to publish drawings and cartoons of Muhammad, and the strong action against Islamic radicalism in the country.
Following Rizvi’s arrest, a large mob of his supporters blocked the Grand Trunk Road at several junctions. Major cities such as Islamabad, Lahore, Gujranwala, and Peshawar were cut off from the rest of the country. The Islamists had also blocked motorways, highways, train tracks and clashed with the police, resulting in two deaths.