LAHORE: Thousands of activists of the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) clashed with police near Sadhoke in Gujranwala district on Wednesday claiming lives and injuries on both sides.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar in a tweet said at least four policemen embraced martyrdom while over 250 others suffered injuries in clashes with TLP activists. “Torture and firing on policemen is highly condemnable during which four cops and 253 others sustained injuries,” he said and vowed that strict legal action(s) will be taken against the responsible ones.
Punjab police spokesperson Nayab Haider said: “there were reports of more police deaths in the violence, but exact number could not be provided.” He claimed that the TLP activists used latest weapons to target the police officials as the result of which several officials were martyred. He identified the slain cop as ASI Akbar, resident of Kasur.
According to him, more than 30 injured policemen were taken to the Muridke Tehsil Headquarters (THQ) Hospital while 35 others were shifted to the Sheikhupura District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital.
However, a TLP spokesperson in a statement claimed that police used force to disperse the protesters near Sadhoke, injuring over 50 workers. He also claimed that five of its workers have so far been killed by “indiscriminate firing” of police and Rangers, who also used helicopters for the purpose.
The police used teargas, water cannons, and bullets to target the crowd, he said and added that instead of trying to resolve the issue, the use of violence by the government was further complicating the situation.
The fresh clashes between the banned party and the police came as the outfit resumed its march towards Islamabad after talks with the government failed. The TLP Shura members said the government did not want serious negotiations whereas the government said the group should let go of its demand pertaining to the expulsion of the French envoy. The government said all other demands, including the release of its chief Saad Rizvi, were acceptable.
The TLP’s central executive committee also accused Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid of lying that matters between it and the government had been settled, adding that the protesters would now depart from Muridke for Islamabad. In a statement, TLP leader Syed Sarwar Shah Saifi said that Sheikh Rashid lied that matters have been resolved. After Sheikh Rashid announcement that the government could not meet the TLP’s demand for the expulsion of the French ambassador, the party had said its activists would now March to Islamabad.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021