LAHORE - A neighborhood of the provincial metropolis turned into a battlefield on Sunday morning after the armed activists of a banned religious outfit (TLP) attacked a police station and abducted around a dozen policemen including a DSP and Rangers personnel.
According to a police spokesperson, the miscreants brutally tortured the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and took him and four other officials along with them to their headquarters (Markaz). Hospital sources confirmed that at least 15 injured police officials were under treatment at different hospitals in the City. “Police and Rangers pushed them back and took back the possession of the police station”, a statement issued by Punjab police said.
“Today in the early morning, miscreants attacked Nawankot Police Station where Rangers and Police officers were trapped inside the police station and DSP Nawankot kidnapped and taken to the Markaz,” the Punjab police said in a statement which further stated that the miscreants were armed and attacked Rangers/police with petrol bombs.
The police later launched a massive operation against the TLP activists at their headquarters at Chowk Yateem Khana area of Lahore apparently to clear the road where they had been staging a week-long sit-in, and to get the police and Rangers officials rescued from their custody. The clash left scores of activists and policemen injured during operation with the police claiming that it acted in “self-defense”.
Some videos on social media also showed TLP workers carrying away the injured to hospitals. Eyewitnesses said that TLP pelted stones at police and Rangers’ personnel as they climbed atop the Orange Line Metro Train. TLP sources also claimed three of their activists died in the police attack. A video message, reportedly released by TLP spokesperson said that they would not bury their dead till the ouster of French ambassador from the country.
“Police did not plan or conduct any operation against the mosque or the madressah. The action, if any, was in self-defense and to protect the public property”, said the police in its statement. It also claimed that the miscreants had also taken at least one oil tanker with 50,000 litres of petrol to the Markaz.
Sources said that negotiations were underway between the government and the TLP over the release of abducted policemen and the Rangers’ personnel. No official word was available about their outcome till the filing of this report. Federal Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad Sunday rejects reports of any negotiations with the banned outfit. He said in categorical terms that the government was not holding any negotiations with them.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry in his tweet said the government “believes in negotiations but will not be blackmailed”. He also maintained that the operation against the banned outfit was launched after the abduction of police and Rangers personnel.
Last week saw countrywide protests by the banned outfit as hundreds of protesters were arrested and booked for attacking the law enforcement agencies.
Meanwhile, Saad Rizvi, leader of the banned religious party late Sunday directed party workers to end the sit-in protest in Lahore and return back home immediately.
Saad Rizvi in a letter written to Majlis-e-Shura (advisory council) of the party asked party workers to end the Lahore protest and disperse peacefully. “Majlis-e-Shura (advisory council) members should surrender themselves before police,” said the banned TLP chief in a letter.
“Citizens and party workers have been suffering badly from the past six days due to the stubbornness of Majlis-e-Shura. They should surrender themselves before police,” reads the letter from the banned TLP chief. The banned TLP chief also asked Shura to withdraw the April 20 strike.
Saad Rizvi asked Syed Zaheerull Hassan Shah to make sure implementation on orders. Special Assistant to Chief Minister (SACM) Punjab Firdous Ashiq Awan on Sunday said that a group of miscreants attacked Nawankot police station in Lahore and kidnapped 12 cops including a deputy superintendent of police (DSP).