ISLAMABAD: A two-judge bench of Supreme Court cross-questioned government officials on Thursday over a three-week long protest at Faizabad Interchange that paralysed the twin cities.
Taking up a nine-page report submitted by police submitted on Wednesday, Justice Mushir Alam enquired Islamabad Advocate General whether cases have been registered against protesters for possessing explosive material.
To which, the advocate general apprised the bench that seven cases have been registered against protesters for carrying explosives.
Justice Alam said the protesters were carrying batons and teargas shells. “If authorities cannot secure the federal capital, how they will ensure the security to rest of the country,” he asked.
On the occasion, Justice Qazi Faez noted that the religious freedom is being suppressed in the country. “Is it possible for people to talk about Islam in the ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan?” he asked.
He enquired the deputy attorney general about casualties that took place during a day-long showdown, besides the losses to public and private properties during the protest.
In response, the deputy attorney general said no loss of life was reported during the operation, however, as many as 173 policemen sustained injuries.
He said an unsigned Punjab government report suggested property losses worth Rs146 million.
To which, Justice Isa observed that no concerned authority is willing to share details of loss of life during the operation. “The media has reported six casualties,” he remarked.
Police admits failure to evict protesters
On Wednesday, police admitted its failure to evict protesters from Faizabad Interchange here in an ill-planned operation, in its report submitted to the Supreme Court.
A two-judge bench of the apex court comprising of Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mushir Alam was hearing a suo-moto case of the sit-in that blocked Faizabad Interchange, connecting Rawalpindi and Islamabad, for three weeks.
At the outset of court proceedings, police submitted a report having details of the botched crackdown against Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYRA) protesters.
The report sheds light on police incompetence to disperse the TLYRA activists from Faizabad traffic intersection. “The protesters provoked religious sentiments of police personnel making them hesitant to take action against the protesters,” the report revealed.
It disclosed that many of the police personnel had a soft corner for the TLYRA activists and supporters taking to roads for a religious cause.
Last week, the desperate government called out the army to control the chaotic situation in Islamabad after a daylong botched crackdown to disperse hundreds of activists and supporters of the TLYRA camped out at the Faizabad Interchange for over three weeks in protest.
They demanded action against those involved in making an amendment to the clause pertaining to the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat (finality of the Prophethood) oath for electoral candidates and the resignation of Law Minister Zahid Hamid.
However, the protesters voluntarily vacated the arterial intersection after the government gave in to their demands and formed a committee to probe the involvement of officials in ‘withdrawn’ amendments while sending Hamid packing.
At last hearing on Nov 23, Justice Qazi Faez expressed displeasure over the capital administration and law enforcement agencies for failing to end the protest.
Passing remarks on two reports submitted by authorities, he said the names highlighted in the reports were already known to everyone while enquiring about the government inaction on the matter.
“Who is being benefited from the protest,” he asked while passing orders to the authorities concerned to probe elements funding the sit-in.
He observed then that Islam did not permit any individual to cause problems for common masses particularly women, children or the elderly even in times of war.
“There is no repression in Islam, such acts will pave a way for conspirators and other anti-state elements to provoke public sentiments under a malicious agenda,” Justice Isa remarked.