Monday Apr 19, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed on Monday announced that 11 policemen, who were taken hostage in Lahore by the proscribed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) have been released after negotiations carried out by the Punjab government.
In a video statement, the interior minister said the “first round of talks” concluded in a "successful manner" after which the policemen were released and the protesters had gone inside the Masjid Rehmatulil Alameen. He added that the police had also been withdrawn.
Rasheed hoped that other matters would also be sorted out in the next round, which would be held after Sehri.
The minister added that out of 192 blockades, only one was remaining and the situation was improving there as well.
“Talks have begun with the banned TLP and hopefully issues will be resolved with them,” Rasheed stated.
All 16 police officials taken hostage on Sunday were released at 2:10 a.m. Monday morning, Rana Arif, the spokesperson for Lahore CCPO told Geo.tv.
The four demands of the TLP included the release of their leader Saad Rivi, for TLP to be unbanned, all FIRs against their workers be dropped and a resolution be presented in the parliament to expel the French ambassador, the official added.
Yesterday, 36 policemen were injured in clashes with the rioters. Of which one is critical, Arif said.
The 16 hostages were kept in the basement of a mosque and tortured.
A senior police officer tells Geo.tv on the condition of anonymity that around 500 rioters attacked the police station at 8am. “As more police arrived, the number of rioters also swelled to nearly 2,000 men,” he said.
“They have a lot of local support in this one area.”
When the police officers trapped inside the police station came out during the operation, the rioters kidnapped them and took them to their madrassa.
“They were armed with petrol bombs,” the police official added.
He further said that the Punjab government had told police officials to disengage with the mob so it can negotiate, “but we told them that our pre-condition was that our men, the 16 taken hostage, be released first.”
Earlier on Sunday, CM Punjab's aide Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan had said that "miscreants" armed with petrol bombs attacked the Nawankot Police Station, taking 12 policemen hostage and leaving six injured.
Sharing a statement by the Lahore police, she had said that owing to the attack, in which the attackers used petrol bombs and bottles of acid, Rangers and police personnel were trapped inside the police station.
The miscreants held the deputy superintendent of police hostage at gunpoint, along with 11 other policemen, and drove them to their markaz (comprising a mosque and madrassah) nearby.
Aside from attacking the police station and kidnapping officials, the miscreants also stole an oil tanker carrying 50,000 litres of petrol, she had said.
According to the police statement, the police pushed back the miscreants and took back possession of the police station.
"Police did not plan or conduct any operation against the mosque or madrassah. The action, if any, was in self-defence and to protect public property," read the statement.
Awan, confirming the same, said that any action taken was in self-defence and to rescue the police officers taken hostage.