Protestors of religious parties clash with Islamabad police; Commuters continue to face hardship as protest enters ninth day
ISLAMABAD: Three policemen were injured on Tuesday in a clash with Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLY) protesters, who continue to block the crucial Faizabad Interchange which connects Islamabad with Rawalpindi for the ninth consecutive day.
Roughly 2,000 protesters are demanding the resignation of Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid over an amendment to the Prophethood Declaration Clause in the Electoral Reforms Bill 2017.
The I-9 station house officer and two other policemen were injured in the clash while the police arrested dozens of protesters.
The Islamabad police chief said the protesters were deliberately trying to escalate tensions so that a clash with police would become inevitable while the protesters said they would defend themselves if the police conducted an operation against them. Khadim Hussain Rizvi and other TLY leaders reportedly told the protesters to put up resistance to the police, signalling that they would continue to defy orders to clear the interchange.
Punjab government spokesman Malik Muhammad Ahmed Khan said that the protests were a “serious inconvenience for people and disturbing public life” in the province that surrounds Islamabad. “The Punjab government has detained dozens of TLY activists from various districts,” he said.
Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal urged the protesters on Monday night to call off the sit-in, saying he hoped the government “wouldn’t be forced to take extreme steps”. The protesters reportedly detained several policemen, seized their weapons and mistreated them. “The abduction of the police is a heinous crime,” Iqbal said in a statement. Police also accused the protesters of throwing stones at them.
Separately, Federal Minister of Religious Affairs Sardar Mohammad Yousaf, while addressing a joint press conference with Minister of State for Interior Affairs Tallal Chaudry, reiterated that the government firmly believes in the finality of Prophethood.
“All Muslims are firm believers in the finality of Prophethood, and we have no ambiguity over the clause,” Yousaf stressed.
The religious affairs minister urged the protesters to end their demonstration as the government has taken notice of their reservations.
Thousands of people use the interchange to commute every day towork in the capital. Last week, an eightmonth-old child died on his way to the hospital after being stuck in traffic because the TLY’s blockade.
The protesters have erected tents on the greenbelt and deputed their own ‘security’ personnelwho frisk pedestrians and motorbike riders.
They have also been controlling traffic for hundreds of meters around their protest camp, parking buses at several locations on Islamabad Highway and removing nearby police checkposts.
ISLAMABAD: Activists of Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) chant slogans during their sit-in protest at Express Highway.