After failing miserably to stop banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) protest rally from departing Lahore to march on Islamabad, the Punjab Police are now planning to launch a massive crackdown against the participants of the rally.
The proscribed TLP began its long march on Islamabad last week after the Friday prayer. The outlawed outfit is demanding the government to fulfil its promise made to it a few months ago.
The provincial police chief after giving dressing down to the senior-most officers of the Lahore police for their failure to stop TLP workers from participating in the rally presented a two-thronged security plan to contain TLP protests if the ongoing negotiations with the proscribed organisation failed.
As part of the security plan, a heavy contingent of Lahore Police comprising around 10,000-15,000 personnel will assist Gujranwala division police to disperse the protestors in Muridke, a small city near Lahore.
The officers and officials from all the police departments including the anti-riot force (ARF) and Dolphin Squad will be part of the contingent.
The Chief Minister Secretariat reportedly had expressed annoyance over failure to halt the TLP march from departing the provincial capital. The same reservations were relayed to the senior-most officers by the Punjab police chief on Tuesday at his office.
The police officials went through a marathon series of briefings at police headquarters. Reportedly, around a dozen senior police officials of SP, DSP and SHO rank will be deployed at the flashpoint in Muridke to respond to the protesters.
Also read: Govt accepts TLP’s conditions to end protests: Rashid
The officials have clearly been directed not to carry firearms and allowed to use only pepper guns, paintball guns and tear gas.
Reportedly, all personnel and officers that had gone through the anti-riot force training have been directed to join the Lahore police’s expedition to Muridke.
To transport such a large number of officials, the Lahore Police started hiring private vehicles but many transporters are reluctant to provide their vehicles amid fears of damages.
The TLP seems to have cleared all its hurdles as the government on Monday gave a green signal for unfreezing its accounts, hinted at releasing its chief, and announced reconsidering the earlier decision of declaring the TLP a “proscribed organisation”, saying it is the third-largest political party of Punjab.
With the latest protest, it appears that the TLP is all set to make a political comeback in the next elections as the government has not only said that it is willing to honour its commitments made with the TLP chief during the negotiations held after the TLP took to the streets demanding the expulsion of French
“Mentally, we should accept that it [TLP] is the third-largest party of Punjab and it has to do politics,” Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said at a news conference Monday afternoon. “We do not want any confrontation; we want to end this daily quarrel.”
He also revealed that the TLP’s demands include its removal from the fourth schedule, their workers’ release and the earlier decision of the federal cabinet that declared the TLP a proscribed organisation. “We are sticking to our commitments,” the minister said. “Whatever promises we have made to them [TLP], we will abide by them.”
The TLP is a “proscribed organisation” and both sides are discussing the matter, Rashid responded to a question, adding that the government reached an understanding with the TLP in this regard