Activists of the TLYR kept entry to the federal capital blocked for more than twenty days by staging a sit-in at Faizabad Interchange, the gateway to Islamabad.
“If Rangers deployment was the solution, the government should have taken the decision earlier,” said Ahsan, a resident of Sohan, while expressing satisfaction over the development. He said that ever since the Rangers were given security control around the interchange, the protestors’ attitude towards the commuters passing the interchange daily had softened.
He said that lives of the residents of the nearby areas had become miserable because of the sit-in. The people had to walk for kilometres on foot and also had to present themselves for security check to a group of the ‘hooligans’ while passing through the interchange, he complained.
“The failed operation carried out by the law enforcement agencies on Saturday further panicked the residents as people thought the protestors will break into their homes,” said Ahsan.
Meanwhile, after the Rangers cordoned off the sit-in place, the TLYR activists hoisted their party flag on Faizabad Bridge as a symbol of victory while dumping the used tear gas shells at its foundation.
“We repelled 8,000-strong LEAs from this place when we were attacked on November 25 and didn’t give up,” said Haifz Usman, a TYLR supporter from Lahore, triumphantly. He said Faizabad Bridge was a victory monument for them, adding that they would be greeted while going back homes.
After the Zohar prayers, the TYLR supporters were informed by their leadership to pack up and start preparing for getting back home. The area that served as a battlefield between the LEAs and the TLYR activists on November 25 was filled with thousands of people who thronged to listen to victory speeches by leaders of the religious outfit.
“The day was very hard because the administration attacked us from all sides but our determination saved the day for us,” said Umair Ahmed from Taxila.
He also said that a large number of their companions had been arrested and their luggage burnt but they were going back homes as ‘winners’.
A number of people are injured and ill as well, he said, adding that the Red Crescent had set a camp to provide medical facilities to the TLYR activists.
After the announcement, the TLYR supporters were seen packing their luggage and waiting in their tents for transport to leave for their homes. Workers of the Capital Development Authority were also seen cleaning the interchange area of the garbage thrown by the protesters. The Rangers’ personnel remained guarding the area, patrolling on foot and in armoured vehicles.
Ironically, the TLYR leaders continued to abuse the government and the Islamabad administration functionaries, they behaved respectfully with the Rangers’ personnel. The TLYR activists also were seeing paying respect to the Rangers’ personnel. Zia Afridi, a TLYR member from Lahore, said that Rangers were getting support after their leadership reached an agreement with the government with the guarantee of the Army. Zia added that the TLYR was determined and thousands of the LEAs personnel had failed to shackle their commitment.
He, however, was in total denial regarding the miseries the residents of the twin cities had to face due to the sit-in. “We do not believe that people of Islamabad and Rawalpindi were disturbed because of our presence as the cause for which we fought was much bigger than their difficulties,” he added.
He said that they passed more difficult days than the locals by leaving their homes for more than twenty days and spending winter nights on road with little food and no facilities. “We lost our companions, but we came with the oath which we fulfilled,” he said.
However, Ali Imran from I-8 viewed that it was complete failure of the civil administration which, he added, had lost the trust of the citizens.
“We are happy that the outsiders are going now whether their demands are met or not, but we will always remember the failure of the LEAs who were wandering in the streets instead of protecting the citizens,” he said.
The lawlessness in the area benefited everyone from TLYR supporters, politicians, administration and profiteers but the peaceful citizens lost the trust of their administration, he added.
“If 8,000 personnel cannot protect few hundred then anyone can come and conquer the state,” he said.