LAHORE -  Police yesterday released at least 200 participants of “Save Islam” rally after filing cases against them with different police stations of the metropolis.

A senior officer told The Nation that the religious activists were released as a result of successful negotiations but City police filed cases against them under Section Maintenance of Public Order and 353/186, 290/291.

“They will have to join the investigation in the days ahead. They have been released but they are booked under the law,” the officer explained and requested his name not to be mentioned.

To a question, the officer said that the agitators did not get bail from the local courts but they were released by police on guarantees that they would join the investigation with reference to the cases.

The cases were filed under Section 290 (Punishment for public nuisance in cases not otherwise provided for), 291 (Continuance of nuisance after injunction to discontinue), 353 (Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), and 186 (Obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions).

Police on Wednesday thwarted pro-blasphemy-law rallies in Lahore, seizing no less than 200 demonstrators and shoving them into trucks.

Two major rallies were called by different religious groups–from Kalima Chowk to Liberty Market and Data Darbar to Faisal Chowk on the Mall. Also, police fired tear-gas shells and used water canon on the protesters during clashes.

Religious leaders claimed more than 200 people including senior clerics were detained around the provincial capital but police sources put the number at 166. The police held a series of negotiations with the protesters late Wednesday night. The religious activists agreed to call of the protests as police decided to release their men.

Earlier, different religious groups threatened province-wide protest movement if the police would not release their leaders and workers.

Police threw a massive security blanket in the City in an effort to thwart the hardline Sunni Tehreek and their allied groups from participating in the “Save Islam” rallies.

Several leading roads were blocked by placing heavy containers to disrupt the protest march.

Clashes erupted between anti-riot police and demonstrators as cops fired tear-gas shells to disperse the mob as they tried to march on the Mall Road.

The protesters pelted police with stones. Over a dozen people including four policemen were injured during the clash.

Followers and workers of religious parties of Brelvi school of thought held protest demonstrations and tried to take out rallies in different parts of the City. Idara Sirat-e-Mustaqeem, Sunni Tehreek Pakistan, Tehreek-e-Khatam-e-Nabowat and Tehreek Labaik Ya Rasool Allah organised the protests.

Motorists in Lahore experienced worst traffic mess throughout the day on Wednesday due to rallies and road blocks. City traffic police blocked several busy roads for hours by placing heavy containers to disrupt the movement of protesters.

Even ambulances were seen trapped in traffic jumbles at various roads and crossings. At a few traffic signals, commuters were seen arguing with traffic officers over road blocks.