Lahore, November 23 (Express Tribune): The Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Khadim Rizvi was arrested by police in a raid on his residence in Lahore on Friday night.
Media reports suggest a crackdown has been initiated against the party’s activists and leaders in all major cities of the country, following the arrest of the firebrand cleric.
Dozens of workers of the TLP have reportedly been arrested, while police personnel have also been deployed at the Faizabad interchange in Islamabad, where the organisation had earlier staged a weeks-long protest.
TLP central leader Dr Asif Ali Bilali, TLP Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa amir Syed Zafar Iqbal Shah Binori, Mufti Zahoor Ahmed Jalali, Allama Akram Jalali and Maulana Nisar Ahmed Jalali are some of the party leaders who were taken into custody by the law enforcement agencies from different parts of the country.
Security has been beefed up across the country to thwart any untoward incident from happening. Heavy contingents of police and paramilitary forces have been deployed to protect all sensitive installations in all major cities.
The party had staged violent countrywide protests against the acquittal of Aasi Bibi last month.
Earlier this month, the Lahore High Court had dismissed petitions against Rizvi and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. The petitioner had sought proceedings of treason against the two leaders for ‘issuing anti-state remarks.”
Rizvi-led TLP had called of its countrywide protest sit-ins following reaching of an agreement with the federal and Punjab governments. On October 30, nationwide protests erupted against the acquittal of blasphemy accused Aasia Bibi, by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Rizvi had critisised state institutions including the government, military and the judiciary on numerous occasions, most notably after a failed round of negotiations between the TLP and the government.
The TLP took to the street after the acquittal of Aasia Bibi by the Supreme Court on October 30, paralyzing the major cities of the country. In his immediate reaction, Prime Minister Imran Khan had warned the protesters not to incite people to violence or else the state would perform its duty to protect the life and property of its citizens.
The TLP protesters stayed put disregarding the warning and staged new protests after Friday prayers, bringing the life to a standstill.
All private and public educational institutions remained closed in major cities, while attendance in government offices and commercial enterprises was also thin.
Hospitals also suffered from staff shortages. Many neighborhoods in Karachi remained without water as protesters had stopped water tankers at different locations.
(The featured photo at the top shows the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan chief, firebrand Islamist cleric Khadim Rizvi)