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TLP marchers use sub-machine gun, Kalashnikovs against force

LAHORE: The proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP)’s protestors are reportedly using sub-machine guns, Kalashnikov and batons against the law enforcing agencies during their protest. They have resumed its march from Gujranwala on Friday, with thousands of activists travelling in cars, buses and on foot continuing their journey towards Islamabad.

Participants of the protest march spent the night near the General Bus Stand on the Grand Trunk Road and resumed their rally in the morning, despite Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed’s Thursday night warning to the TLP to call off its march or face “consequences”.

The rally, which comprises around 5,000 participants, reached the Gujrat-Chenab toll plaza after stopping at Rahwali to offer Friday prayers. A heavy police contingent was deployed at the toll plaza.

A senior official earlier said that the next TLP-police encounter was expected at two major security points that had been established at Chenab and Jhelum rivers, the only route for the march to reach Islamabad.

This time, he said, the Rangers would lead the command, while the Punjab Police would assist them as per the standard guidelines issued since the government deployed Rangers in the province under a notification issued on Wednesday.

On Friday, hundreds of Rangers and police personnel were deployed at the Chenab toll plaza to counter the marchers.

The security personnel also have armoured vehicles with them and are equipped with riot gear, according to police sources.

About 500 metres from the Chenab toll plaza, the Punjab Rangers marked a ‘red line’, and put up a notice nearby warning the protesters not to breach the line or face consequences.

“Attention: Beyond this line, the responsibility for law and order lies with Pakistan Rangers (Punjab), who have been given the authority to open fire at the miscreants. All the people are strictly warned to return to their homes,” the banner installed by the paramilitary force reads.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar also visited Lahore’s Mayo Hospital to inquire about the health of police officials injured in clashes with TLP workers.

ISLAMABAD: People are facing trouble due to the closures of Murree road due to the upcoming rally of banded religious party in Federal Capital.

According to an update shared by the CM’s Office on Twitter, Buzdar spoke to the injured officials and asked them about their condition and gave instructions to the hospital management for their treatment.

Using sub-machine guns

A recent high-level security meeting discussed with great concern a report that the proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan men had used sub-machine guns (SMGs) targeting policemen during Kamoke violence.

A senior police officer told Dawn a mobile phone footage which recorded the disturbing scene was also presented in the meeting, showing five TLP armed men using as many SMGs and firing straight at policemen who were running for shelter.

The police report said the armed men fired 80 rounds of SMGs some of which were recovered from the scene and sent for forensic analysis.

Other incidents of armed attacks on the law enforcers were also recorded at the same point where two policemen died from multiple bullet wounds while 16 others sustained injuries from shots fired by TLP using lethal weapons.

“It shocked police high-ups from where the TLP was getting weapons and training to use them,” the police official said.

He said all the participants of the meeting had reached the point that the TLP had been turned into a ‘militant group’ and the government must review its policy seriously towards this outfit.

To a question, the official said the Punjab police high-ups in the meeting also discussed the possibility of involvement of some hostile agencies working against Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the TLP marchers resumed their journey from Gujranwala city on Friday, reaching near Wazirabad till the filing of this report at 9pm.

The participants, who were said to be between 5000 to 7000 in number, were mainly traveling on buses, cars, motorbikes and chanting slogans in favour of their demands.

It was a smooth journey for the marchers on Friday as police removed its pickets along the GT Road from Gujranwala to Wazirabad.

Official sources said that the pickets and blockades had been removed in that particular section to avoid any violent clash in the urban portion of the central Punjab so that the urban population could not be disturbed or affected by the teargas shelling, stone pelting etc.

Rangers given power to shoot

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Friday said that police have been given under the administrative control of Rangers in Punjab under Article 147 of the Constitution to maintain law and order in the province and to deal with the protestors of banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).

TLP protesters resumed their march from Gujranwala on Friday with thousands of activists travelling in cars, buses and on foot continuing their journey towards Islamabad.

After spending the Thursday night near the General Bus Stand on the Grand Trunk Road, participants of the protest march resumed their rally in the morning, despite Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed’s warning’s of “consequences”.

More Than 5,000 participants of the rally reached the Gujrat-Chenab toll plaza after stopping at Rahwali to offer Friday prayers. A heavy police contingent was deployed at the toll plaza.

Rangers have also been given powers of section 5 of Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997 and the Punjab government can deploy and use the paramilitary troops anywhere in the province, he said while addressing a press conference here at the Ministry of Interior. 

The Section 5 of ATA says that armed forces, or civil armed forces deployed in any area may “use the necessary force to prevent the commission of terrorist acts or scheduled offences” and can exercise all powers of police. On October 27, the Ministry of Interior had deployed Pakistan Rangers (Punjab) in the province on the request of Punjab government.

The next TLP-police encounter is expected at two major security points that had been established at Chenab and Jhelum rivers, the only route for the march to reach Islamabad.

The Rangers is likely to lead the command, while the Punjab Police will assist them as per the standard guidelines issued since the government.

About 500 metres from the Chenab toll plaza, the Punjab Rangers marked a ‘red line’, and put up a notice nearby warning the protesters not to breach the line or face consequences. “Attention: Beyond this line, the responsibility for law and order lies with Pakistan Rangers (Punjab), who have been given the authority to open fire at the miscreants. All the people are strictly warned to return to their homes,” the banner installed by the paramilitary force reads.

Earlier in the day, Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry said at least 36 activists of the militant outfit, who were involved in using fake social media accounts to propagate hate, have been detained. He warned of more arrests.

The federal government on Friday evening opened another round of crucial negotiations with the banned organization to pursue the latter to end its protest long march to Islamabad that has crippled life in major cities of Punjab since more than a week, according to the official sources.