Federal Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmed announced this morning that after a successful first round of talks between the Punjab government and the recently banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), 11 policemen who had been taken hostage on Sunday have been released.
In a video statement released in the wee hours of April 19, Rasheed said that the first round of talks was successful and he was hopeful that the second round of talks after sehri would also be fruitful. The minister hoped that matters would be resolved amicably. Four demands have been put forth by the proscribed party: 1) release of TLP leader Saad Rivi, 2) Lift the ban on TLP, 3) FIRs against TLP workers be quashed and TLP workers released, 4) expel the French ambassador.
As per the list released to the media, the total number of released hostages was 16, which included 11 policemen and other staff members. Most of the officials had head injuries as well as other injuries due to torture. Geo News had reported that the hostages were kept in the basement of a mosque.
Dawn reported that Lahore CCPO Ghulam Mehmood Dogar had participated in the operation to free the officials. “Police contingents, as well as Rangers, have been deployed at sensitive areas across the city,” said the spokesperson for the Lahore Police.
Countrywide protests erupted on Monday after security forces detained TLP chief Saad Hussain Rizvi in Lahore. Rizvi’s detention quickly sparked violent protests by TLP workers in cities around the country. Videos of policemen being beaten up by the protesters went viral on social media. Some police officials tweeted about the writ of the state.
Later, the government had taken the decision to ban TLP under Section 11(B) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
On Sunday, violence erupted in Lahore’s Chowk Yateem Khana after the TLP workers attacked a police station and abducted the DSP, according to the Punjab Police. A statement by the Punjab Police said that “miscreants were armed and attacked Rangers/Police”.