Rawalpindi/Islamabad - The life in twin cities has been paralysed since the past week due to handful activists of a religious party staging a sit-in at Faizabad Interchange. The protestors illegally occupying the bridge are also enjoying sumptuous feasts arranged for them by those of their ilk, it was learnt on Thursday.

The ‘hosts’ of the protestors have even managed to bring fancy tents, canopies, tables, colourful chairs and other catering items to the protest location despite strict security measures by law enforcement agencies. The activists of Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR), are seeking immediate resignation of the Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid accusing him of making attempt to amend Khatam-e-Nabuwat declaration for electoral candidates.

According to sources, a local spiritual leader namely Pir Hussain Qadri of Sihala along with other leaders prepared a lavish dinner for the hundreds of protestors of TLYR and brought it to the Faizabad Bridge in mini trucks. The food laden mini trucks crossed several security barriers without being stopped by the police for checking, sources added.

Sources added that the dinner menu for protestors included Mutton Biryani, Mutton, Chicken Tikka, three different kinds of sweet dishes and 9 others dishes. “The food was served to around 2000 protestors of TLYR,” said a source.

Meanwhile, the harsh weather conditions also made no difference to the charged activists of TLYR who continue to occupy the entrance to the federal capital. A heavy contingent of police has been deployed to control the law and order situation on the protesting site. The suspension of mobile phone and internet signals at Faizabad and its suburbs has caused immense problems for people.  Pir Syed Hussain Uddin Shah, a senior cleric, has given a call to activists and leaders of all the religious parties to reach Jamia Rizvia Zia-ul-Aloom before Juma prayer. He announced that the protestors would march towards Faizabad Interchange to join the TLYR rally. “We will march towards Faizabad to bring peace and the government will be responsible for any untoward incident if it tries to put hurdles in the way of protestors,” he said.

Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi said the protestors would not move an inch until the resignation of Zahid Hamid, the federal law minister. He said they staged a sit-in not to gain popularity but to defend Khatam-e-Nabuwat. “We are ready to embrace martyrdom if the federal interior minister Ahsan Iqbal wants to repeat the episode at Model Town, Lahore,” he added. He added he has brought his two sons for embracing Shahadat.

Pir Muhammad Afzal Qadri was of view that TLYR had not approached Islamabad High Court and announced suspension of membership of the lawyer who filed petition with IHC.

The business activities around Faizabad remained suspended and the traders of Kuri Road took out a protest rally against the government for failing to deal with a few hundred protestors of TLYR occupying the Faizabad Interchange. Metro Bus Service has also remained suspended between the twin cities multiplying the miseries of travellers.

“The writ of government is nowhere to be seen since a handful of people have occupied all roads in federal capital,” said Sardar Aftab, an architect.

Shahnawaz Khan, a university student, said he is unable to reach university in time because of blockade of roads by the protestors. “Usually I reach university in 30 minutes from my house but now it takes 2 hours due to alternative routes.”

Meanwhile, the Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYA) protesters have rubbished the government’s warning regarding use of force against them and have extended their pickets positions in both Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

The protestors have, to citizens’ chagrin, moved forward on both sides of the two cities. The encroachment has been made on IJP Road leading towards Rawalpindi and Express Highway leading towards the federal capital.

The members of TLYRA have set their positions near the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) with batons and rods while the security check for commuters has been also increased.

Though the number of protestors has reduced after nine days of protest, a large number is committed to continue the sit-in and face the government’s action to disperse them from the Faizabad Interchange.

Muhammad Bilal and Zakariya, both students of a seminary in Lahore, standing on the first security picket at Faizabad bus terminal told The Nation that the cold weather and the government’s threats cannot break their will.  “The government has robbed Khatm-i-Nabuwwat law and has to pay the price for it,” said Bilal.

He said that people from all provinces have joined the sit-in and are committed to the cause.

Another participant, Ghulam Mustafa said that their ‘Amir’s’ leadership has blessed them with the passion to keep the momentum of their protest.

He said that the shrine of Bari Imam is supplying a huge quantity of food including rice and curry to the protestors.

Rustam Khan, a participant from Peshawar said that only ambulances and military vehicles are allowed to pass from the interchange and all other vehicle movement is banned.

Meanwhile the miseries of the commuters have increased due to lawlessness on the gateway of federal capital. People including school children and women, are compelled to pass the interchange walking kilometres.

The public transport owners have started overcharging the commuters while no traffic warden has been assigned the duty to monitor the situation.