Islamabad - While the government is showing its utter disregard for miseries of commuters and motorists, activists of Tehreek Labaik Ya Rasool Allah and Sunni Tehreek have taken the law in their own hands and blocked the Faizabad Interchange for many days.

There is a deadlock between the leadership of TLYR and the government on the demand of resignation of Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid in the wake of Khatam-e-Nabuwat Declaration controversy and the leniency so far shown by the government seems to be part of the strategy to deal with the protesters.

However, taking benefit of the government’s soft stance, the protesters, through their acts, have now become a source of irritation for the residents. Starting from a sit-in at the interchange, the show of religious parties’ has now turned into a full-fledged policing activity around the venue, as the protesters are in full control of the area.

Different pickets have been set up around the venue, which are being manned by the protesters to search and guide the in-comers.

It looks like a state within state where no one is allowed to move against the protesters’ will. The protesters are around 2000 in numbers but the number is shrinking with each passing day as the weather gets harsh, according to the police sources.

Many of the protesters left the venue after offering Friday prayer, said the police reports. Around 1000 law-enforcers are performing duty at the venue.

Instead of being guided by the police, the protesters are policing now. According to reliable sources in Islamabad police, the TLYR activists, on November 8, kidnapped at least four police officials from I-8/4 picket at around 8pm. The suspicious persons used a black-coloured Vigo for the kidnapping. The accused were holding sticks in their hands and bundled the police officials into the vehicle, according to the sources.

Missing policemen of ICT police included Badshah (C/1878), Sarfaraz (5619), Bilal (Constable No 6350) and Iftikhar (Constable No 5842). The police officials remained missing for more than three hours before they were released.

During the episode, Constable Zafar got minor injuries. All the police officials were without tear gas guns. “They were interrogated by the protesters for three hours,” said a senior government official on condition of anonymity, also expressing concern over the excesses of the protesters. On a question why the government is not taking strict action against them, another official said that the already under-pressure government wants to resolve the issue amicably.

On 11 November, over 100 unidentified protesters led by Maulana Ajmal, Maulana Inayat, Mir Afzal Qadri, Sheikh Azhar and Waheed Noor attacked a police check post at Faizabad and snatched 10 anti-riot kits from the police officials.

Industrial Area police booked the accused under Section 148, 149, 353, 186, 382, 109 of the PPC and further investigation is underway. So far, about a dozen cases have been registered against the protesters for different crimes but the police have not made any arrests. A large number of residents of Islamabad and Rawalpindi commute daily on the roads which connect the two cities.

Faizabad Interchange is strategically a key point as far as connectivity between the two cities is concerned. The residents of the twin cities have been facing a lot of troubles due to the sit-in and blockade of Faizabad Interchange.

Traffic on the alternative routes is also choked because these routes cannot handle the influx of vehicles pouring in from highways.

Closure of metro bus service has also multiplied the miseries of the commuters especially. The protesters have also threatened to block airports and the motorway if the federal law minister was not sacked.

Large part of the two cities is blocked by the protesters while much is still happening in the city as far as lawlessness is concerned. The government cannot ignore when a political party or religious group sends their workers to Islamabad to close the gateway to the federal capital and generate pressure to force the government to accept their demands.

The administration looks indecisive on the issue as the protesters halt public life and commuters are compelled to suffer. Apparently, the government appears to be following a strategy of getting the protesters exhausted. The past week brought a lot of trouble for the residents of the twin cities and the government did nothing strict to give relief to the residents.

The authorities should do the needful and take appropriate measures to mitigate the sufferings of the people at the earliest.