–Ministry releases initial pictures of miscreants involved in vandalising property, harming citizens
ISLAMABAD: The Interior Ministry has started criminal proceedings against rioters involved in destroying property during the three-day countrywide protests against a Supreme Court verdict that acquitted Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman who had been on death row in a blasphemy case.
The ministry on Sunday released initial pictures of the miscreants involved in vandalising property and harming common citizens during the demonstrations, which ended on Friday after the government reached an agreement with the protesters.
The ministry also appealed to citizens to cooperate with the police and the Federal Investigation Agency in identifying the rioters.
“We will release more pictures of those involved in rioting and destroying public property in the coming days,” a statement from the Interior Ministry read.
“The Interior Ministry received pictures from the special branch and other sources. We have asked the police and the FIA for their cooperation in identifying the perpetrators,” the statement had said.
It further requested citizens to inform the police and FIA after identifying the agitators.
The Interior Ministry had also directed the police and FIA to take action after identifying the perpetrators.
On Saturday, the Interior Ministry assured of action against elements involved in destroying properties and harming common citizens. The ministry said it was in the process of identifying such elements and that action will be taken against them.
The same day, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi and senior leader Afzal Qadri were booked on charges of rioting and disrupting peace in various parts of Lahore.
At least 500 TLP leaders and supporters, including firebrand cleric Khadim Rizvi and Afzal Qadri, were booked in 11 different cases under charges of causing agitation among the masses, blocking roads and vandalism in Lahore.
Two cases were also lodged in the federal capital on charges of damaging public and private properties as well as violating section 144.
The development came after the Interior Ministry had announced taking action against all those “miscreants, who under the guise of peaceful protests, caused destruction to public and private properties and harmed helpless citizens” during the three-day protests.
“Steps are being taken to identify these miscreants,” a statement issued by the ministry of interior had said.
In Karachi, a total of 12 cases have been registered against the rioters, police said. The cases have been registered initially against “unknown suspects” but the miscreants would soon be identified with the help of CCTV footages and social media videos, police had added.
The countrywide demonstrations by TLP and other religiopolitical parties, which erupted on Wednesday after the Supreme Court announced acquitting Aasia Bibi, had left major highways — including the motorway connecting Lahore and Islamabad — blocked and routine life paralysed in major cities.
Mobile services in major cities had also been suspended.
The protests had come after Prime Minister Imran Khan issued a forceful rebuke to the TLP in a nationally-televised address in the ruling’s wake, saying the government would not tolerate violent protests.
On Friday, the government and the TLP had signed a deal to conclude the latter’s nationwide protest. One of the major concessions the government agreed to was to “initiate the legal process” to place Aasia Bibi’s name on the ECL [Exit Control List].
The state had also assured the party that it would not oppose a review petition filed against the Supreme Court’s judgement in the Aasia Bibi blasphemy case.
The government further promised to take appropriate legal action to redress any deaths that may have occurred during the protests against the Aasia Bibi verdict and to release all people picked up in connection with the protests starting October 30.
The TLP, in turn, only offered an apology “if it hurt the sentiments or inconvenienced anyone without reason”.