Police launch special operations as zealots continue with violence

-Heavy police contingents deployed at Islamabad’s entry/exit point, Capital put on red alert -Militant group’s workers capture, torture policemen, including DSP
-TLP offices in Attock, other cities sealed
-Operation halted after 5 killed in violent clashes

By Ajmal Khan Yousafzai

Islamabad: The security situation remained squeezed throughout the capital on Sunday, after a high alert was issued by the security agencies.
According to DIG Operations of capital city, heavy contingents of law enforcement officials were deployed at all entry and exit points of Islamabad. Additionally, Police and Rangers were also dispatched to other important installations.
“All possible steps would be taken for maintenance of law and order in the city,” he said. Police spokesperson has said that no entity will be allowed to block any roads or highways.
Meanwhile, at least three people were killed and several others, including police, injured on Sunday as police launched an operation to clear the Chowk Yateem Khana neighbourhood in Lahore where activists and supporters of the now-proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) have been staging a sit-in since Monday.
Clashes erupted in Lahore between police and workers of TLP late on Monday when police arrested its chief Saad Rizvi after he threatened the government with protests if it did not expel the French ambassador over blasphemous depictions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Security forces swinging batons and firing teargas moved before dawn to clear sit-ins in Lahore.
In a video message, a spokesperson for the group, Shafiq Ameeni, claimed that “forces suddenly attacked us at Lahore Markaz at 8:00 am today morning in which a large number of our workers have been martyred while many are injured”.
“We will bury those killed when the French ambassador exits the country and our agreement with the government is implemented,” he added. The group wants the government to boycott French products and expel the French ambassador under an “agreement” signed with it by the government in February.
Police also confirmed that an operation was underway at Chowk Yateem Khana but did not give any further details.
The TLP also shared a video of a Punjab police official, who was purportedly abducted by its workers on Sunday. The injured official, seemingly under duress, said that an operation was being carried out to clear the area outside a police station when he was “captured” by the “enraged” crowd.
He said that three people were killed and several others sustained bullet wounds, appealing for a way forward through dialogue.
In a statement, Punjab police said “miscreants” had attacked Nawankot police station early morning where Rangers and police officers “were trapped inside the police station and DSP Nawankot kidnapped and taken to the [TLP] markaz”.
The attackers were armed and attacked Rangers and police with “patrol bombs”. The security personnel pushed them back and took back the possession of the police station.
The police, it said, did not plan or conduct any operation against the mosque or the seminary. “The action, if any, was in self-defence and to protect public property.”
The government has arrested 1,400 workers. Paramilitary troops were deployed overnight to clear the protests, which has blocked rail tracks, highways and entry and exit routes to major cities, including Islamabad.
In a related development, the Punjab government blocked Rizvi’s computerised national identity card (CNIC) and placed his name in the fourth schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).
The Fourth Schedule is a list of proscribed individuals who are suspected of terrorism and/or sectarianism under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997. Any individual placed on the watch list is bound to inform the respective police before leaving their hometowns and after return and about their activities.
A notification issued by the provincial Home Department on Sunday confirmed the same. According to the rules, Rizvi will now have to surrender his passport to the authorities.
The group has also been ordered to submit its income and expenditure for all social and political activities and disclose its income sources.
In a meeting of the Punjab Home Department on Saturday, it was suggested that the TLP chief’s and five other party supporter’s names should be placed on the Exit Control List. A request regarding the matter has been sent to the Interior Ministry.
Earlier this week, the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) had recommended the government to take over seminaries run by the party and crackdown on its sources of funding.
Meanwhile, the district administration and police in Attock sealed the offices of TLP as part of a crackdown underway against the militant group.
The drive was launched after the government banned the TLP and designated it as a terrorist organisation.
In Attock alone, the police arrested 73 workers of the party while its offices were sealed in Pindigheb and Jand towns of the city.
Police said the crackdown was launched in line with the directions of the Ministry of Interior.
Mobile internet services remained suspended in several neighbourhoods of Lahore for the fourth straight day on Sunday.
The facility was blocked in areas including Allama Iqbal Town, Muslim Town, Moon Market, Wahdat Road, Gulberg, Shah Jamal, Shadman and Samanabad.