LAHORE: A group that shut down Islamabad-Rawalpindi a year ago has renewed its protest, this time in Lahore, where it has started sit-ins at major roads.
Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) have spread to what they claim are more than 80 places in the city. This is a continuation of their dharna last year over changes to the election law.
On Thursday, TLYR’s demonstrators were seen carrying batons at Shahdara Chowk, Shahdara Town, Niazi Chowk, Metro route, Handiya Bridge, Thokhar Niaz Baig, Multan Road, Kasur road, Chungi Amarnath, according to our correspondents.
The TLYR men blocked the Metro bus routes from both sides and the service was stopped.
The group had been protesting at Lahore’s Data Darbar from Monday, April 2. Talks failed with the Punjab government. The government was represented by Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah. They last met at 4pm on Thursday.
The group had been threatening to hold nationwide protests from Friday if its demands were not met. Two thousand policemen have been deployed at entry points in Islamabad, and 500 Rangers personnel have been called in. “Nobody will be allowed to enter Islamabad,” Islamabad’s SSP Security said. There has been no police presence near the Lahore protests, our correspondent adds.
TLYR is led by Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who is facing arrest warrants.
Last year, the group began a protest at the crucial Faizabad interchange. The protest was organised over changes to an oath in the elections law—but a year after the amendments were made. The government said it was a clerical error but this was not accepted by the group.
Violence eventually broke out across the country. The protest was called off after the army intervened. The group demanded the law minister resign, which he did. An agreement was brokered by the army between the government and the TLYR, but the Islamabad High Court has questioned its legality.
An anti-terrorism court had declared Rizvi and other leaders proclaimed offenders but the authorities did not arrest them.
Story first published: 12th April 2018