Islamabad -  The authorities are all set to initiate a crackdown on the activists of a religious party, who ignored a final warning, blocking a main road into the federal capital, raising fears of a violent clash.

Earlier in the day, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ordered the district administration to take all necessary steps to clear the area latest by Saturday morning. A 10pm deadline for Friday night given to protesters to disperse fell on deaf ears.

The local authorities have also called in paramilitary Rangers. All hospitals in the federal capital were ordered to cancel doctors and paramedical staff's leaves and ask them to be present on duty.

The Nation has learnt that an operation against the protesters is likely to start early Saturday (today) morning in case the marchers do not comply with the orders of the court.

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal earlier appealed to the leadership of Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) to end their sit-in as the country could no more afford religious hatred and tension.

Addressing a press conference, Ahsan said the Khatam-e-Nabuwat declaration had been restored to its original form and now there was no excuse for continuing the protest.

He said that the residents of the twin cities had been facing inconvenience due to blockade of roads and the protesters should no more test the patience of the government. “Otherwise, the government will have to take the step, which the IHC has ordered,” the minister warned the protesters.

He said the act of the protesters did not conform even with the teachings of Islam. Ahsan repeatedly appealed to the protesters to end their sit-in as their protest had been recorded.

He was of the view that the government fully realised the sentiments of the protesters, and now they should leave the venue peacefully. He said that enemy countries were propagating the situation to malign the country.

On the other hand, sources told The Nation that the authorities had decided to start clearance operation early Saturday morning. “Operation has been planned for Saturday morning at 7:30am,” said a senior government official privy to the development.

The FC and Rangers have also been deployed to assist police in the operation.

Meanwhile, the Faizabad Interchange remained blocked for another day on Friday. The protesters have been demanding resignation of the law minister.

Earlier, soon after the IHC orders, the district administration directed the protesters to immediately call off their sit-in. It said the non-compliance would lead to contempt of court and the competent authority would be compelled to initiate strict legal action in order to fulfil the requirement of the law and writ of the government.

In a letter addressed to Khadim Hussain Rizvi of the TLYR and Pir Afzal Qadri, the Islamabad District Magistrate warned the protesters to call off the illegal sit-in or shift immediately to the Shakarparian Parade Ground and seek NOC from the competent authority.

The copy of the letter was also submitted to 19 other religious leaders including Pir Shamsuddin of Golra Sharif and Pir Jamilur Rehman of Eidgah Sharif.

In a separate notice to the protesters and organisers of the sit-in, the District Magistrate said that the protest was violation of Section 144 and causing inconvenience for general public.

IHC ORDERS ADMIN TO

CLEAR SIT-IN VENUE

The Islamabad High Court directed the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration to take all necessary steps to clear the Faizabad Interchange from the protesters of Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah and Sunni Tehreek.

IHC judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui also noted in his verdict that the district magistrate has the authority under the law to seek the assistance of the FC and Rangers to enforce the writ of the state if circumstances so demanded. He said that this task must be completed by tomorrow (Saturday).

Justice Siddiqui issued the orders in response to a petition moved by lawyer Syed Pervaiz Zahoor, seeking court directives against the protesters who have been occupying the Faizabad Interchange for the last many days.

The IHC bench, in its three-page verdict, observed: “An order was passed the other day with the expectation that as most of the demands of the protesters of the sit-in have already been met by the parliament, the protesters will vacate Faizabad Interchange for traffic, but it is so unfortunate that instead of obeying direction of the court, the leadership of protesters/sit-in showed defiance and also used abusive language, which is itself unprecedented”.

While commenting on the poor performance of the district administration, Justice Siddiqui said, “It is the responsibility and primary duty of the ICT administration and the police to maintain law and order and protect the fundamental rights of the citizens guaranteed by the Constitution.”

“In the present circumstances, I observe with great concern that the district administration failed to perform its duty as was required; rather it appears from the mannerism that the sit-in has been facilitated to put the country into a crisis situation. This court has already passed a detailed judgment that any citizen exercising his right of free movement or expression cannot be allowed to take away other citizens’ rights and reduce the capital territory to a siege area,” said the verdict.

Justice Siddiqui said, “Without a guarantee that the protesters will not occupy any other place except Democracy Park and Speech Corner, the district administration should not have allowed them to enter the ICT jurisdiction. But it is a mystery that the protesters have been sitting for the last 10 days and the district administration is acting like a spectator of a cricket match”.

“The district magistrate has the authority under the law to ensure the enforcement of the government writ and take action in accordance with law against those who take law into their own hands. Freedom of expression or free movement does not mean that other citizens and inhabitants of the twin cities may be left at the mercy of these protesters,” the verdict said.

The judge directed the ICT administration to perform its duty of protecting the fundamental rights of the citizens guaranteed under articles 9, 14, 15, 18, 24, 25 and 25-A of the Constitution and take all necessary steps required for clearing the Faizabad Interchange from the protesters.

During the hearing, Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Capt (r) Mushtaq and deputy inspector general (operations) were also present in the court. The DC told the court that the number of protesters was between 1,800 and 2,000, which may increase after Juma prayers. “The protesters have gathered rocks to defend themselves,” he said, adding they also possess 10 to 12 weapons.

The judge deferred the hearing until November 20.

 

 

Govt set to crack down on marchers


 

Tahir Niaz & SHAHID RAO