ISLAMABAD: Police, FC and Rangers personnel launched crackdown against Faizabad sit-in protesters on early Saturday morning after the deadline given by the local administration to protesters to clear the main road expired at midnight.
The operation was carried out after police personnel repeatedly directed the protesters to call-off their sit-in. The officers resorted to teargas and rubber bullets firing over which the workers of religious parties hurled stones at them and resisted the crackdown.
It seems that the protesters are well prepared to face government action as they are armed with catapults and sticks and wearing masks.
More than 100 protesters have also been arrested while few camps were also burnt to warn them.
Meanwhile, an emergency has been declared in hospitals of Rawalpindi and Islamabad whereas all shops and businesses have been shut in the area of the operation.
The informed sources further told that the connected roads and streets have been closed by the administration in order to bar more people from joining the sit-in.
Expressing extreme displeasure over the government for its failure to clear the capital’s busy artery of protesters, the Islamabad High Court on Friday issued a show cause notice to Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui directed the interior minister to appear before the court on Monday along with an explanation for flouting its order with regard to evicting the defiant protesters from the Faizabad Interchange.
He observed that fundamental rights of the people were being violated. “This is the failure of the government,” Justice Siddiqui noted, adding “but we will not let the state to fail.”
On Thursday, the Supreme Court expressed extreme annoyance over the government for its failure to end the Faizabad sit-in.
A two-judge bench of the apex court, comprising Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Qazi Faiz Isa, rejected the reports submitted by the intelligence agencies and directed them to inform it as to who is funding the protesters.
It observed that the court was not asking to spray the protesters with bullets, but want to know whether any investigation was carried out to ascertain who was bankrolling them.
Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Thursday said the Islamabad protesters have political ambitions as they wanted to garner support ahead of the next elections.
He said the protesters wanted to dent the ruling party’s vote bank, by pitting the PML-N against a particular sect.
Iqbal said the government is actively engaged in dialogue with the protesters to find a peaceful end to the protest.
He said he can clear the Faizabad Interchange of the protesters within three hours, but it could led to bloodshed or a repeat of the Lal Masjid operation.
The interior minister said there was no justification for seeking the resignation of Law Minister Zahid Hamid since he had no role in the now-withdrawn amendment in Khatm-e-Nabuwwat declaration for electoral candidates.
‘Protesters sole demand’
Tehreek Labaik Ya Rasool Allah has been protesting for over a fortnight, demanding action against those responsible for making now-withdrawn amendment to the clause pertaining to the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat oath for electoral candidates and the sacking of Law Minister Zahid Hamid.
“If the government send the law minister packing, it would eventually set a wrong precedent,” the Interior Minister had said, adding, there was no proof that he was responsible for the amendment.