Cap­i­tal paral­ysed

Pro­tes­tors of reli­gious par­ties clash with Islamabad po­lice; Com­muters con­tinue to face hard­ship as protest en­ters ninth day

Daily Messenger - - Front Page -

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.

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