ISLAMABAD - After the other day’s botched operation of law enforcement agencies against the protesters capturing the main Faizabad Interchange, Rangers were deployed on Sunday around the sit-in venue replacing the police and Frontier Constabulary and the paramilitary force was given the overall charge to handle the protesters.
Though, Islamabad police have out rightly ruled out the possibility of making the second attempt to disperse the protesters of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah, the Ministry of Interior on Sunday appointed DG Rangers (Punjab) as the overall incharge of the operation against Faizabad sit-in.
The Ministry of Interior through a notification appointed Major General Azhar Naveed Hayat Khan, Director General, Pakistan Rangers (Punjab) as “over-all in-charge of operation to handle and clear the sit-in organised by activists of TLYRA at Faizabad Interchange and at other places in Islamabad and Rawalpindi with effect from November 26, 2017 to December 3, 2017.” The notification said that Pakistan Rangers (Punjab) had already been deployed in aid of civil power in Islamabad and Rawalpindi respectively.
As the number of protesters kept on increasing on Sunday because the public sentiment tilted towards the organisers of the sit-in because of the other day’s use of force by police and FC, Rangers were deployed on the outskirts of the sit-in from all sides — Muree Road, Club Road, Expressway, Highway and Inter Junction Principal Road (IJP)—as a safety measure to save police and FC from possible attacks of protesters.
With police lost its deployment on the roads leading towards Faizabad Interchange because of their retreat, the food supply line of the protesters got restored immediately and participants enjoyed their meals and there was abundance of food available at the sit-in venue. Not only food supply was restored to the protesters that was earlier made limited by the police but also they got hundreds of blankets and sleeping sheets from their unknown donors on the night falling between Saturday and Sunday — a fact that was confirmed by a protester.
Under the strategy of the local administration, the police and FC troops remained in the second and third tier of security cordon but they were very far from the sit-in venue where the leadership of TLYRA continued their fiery speeches against the government and the judiciary. Police and FC personnel remained present at the main Sector I-8 Markaz and they had no presence at the main Muree Road and on other roads leading towards Faizabad Bridge.
A senior police officer who was deployed in the outer cordon said that the higher authorities and the police themselves view that the police deployment around the venue would add fuel to the already volatile situation as the protesters, out of frustration, would attack the police personnel.
Saleem Qadri, a protester-cum-volunteer and doing security duty at the sit-in, informed The Nation that they were getting food without any disruption after the police suspended its operation on Saturday afternoon. He said they had got around two hundred blankets and the sleeping sheets from some volunteers on Saturday night. “We are getting all these things with the unseen help of Allah,” he said.
On the other hand, the main gate of the house of former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan also remained under the control of the protesters as they were seen standing there while holding long sticks in their hands the whole day. The activists of TLYRA also imposed a ban on the passersby and the media persons from taking footages of the damaged gate and boundary wall of the residence of former interior minister. The activists have also occupied the petrol station adjacent to the residence of Chaudhry Nisar where around five burnt vehicles were seen parked as a result of the Saturday’s ransom attacks of the followers of TLYRA. The activists of TLYRA had banned the media persons and the common people of taking photographs of the damaged vehicles and used to manhandle if someone tried to grab photograph.