Pakistan arrests 250 for rioting, disrupting peace
Islamabad/Lahore, Nov 4: Pakistan police on Sunday arrested nearly 250 people from across the country on charges of arson, vandalism and violence during the three-day mass protests following the acquittal of Christian woman Asia Bibi.
A day after striking a deal with the radical Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), the government swung into action as it started a crackdown against the people who vandalised public properties during the protests.
Asia Bibi, a 47-year-old mother of four, was convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting Islam in a row with her neighbours. She always maintained her innocence, but has spent most of the past eight years in solitary confinement.
In a landmark judgement last Wednesday, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar overturned the conviction of Aasia Bibi facing execution for blasphemy, sparking protests led by the TLP and other groups across Pakistan.
The protestors led by the TLP and other groups blocked major highways and roads in different parts of the country.
The interior ministry has initiated criminal proceedings against the rioters and booked 5,000 people, including TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi and senior leader Afzal Qadri, on charges of rioting and disrupting peace during the demonstrations
In Lahore, the police registered 11 cases against 1,500 persons, including the TLP leaders for blocking roads and creating law and order situation. The FIRs against Qadri and Rizvi have been sealed, The Express Tribune reported.
In Faisalabad, the police registered 29 cases against 3,000 protestors and arrested 218 persons.
In Chiniot, 3 cases were registered and 13 persons were arrested; in Sargodha 2 cases were registered against 300 persons and in Jhang two cases were registered against 150 persons. Twelve of these people were arrested, the report said.
In Okara, FIR was registered against 200 people. Twenty people later got bails and released. The Rawalpindi police also registered 18 cases against hundreds of TLP workers while 16 workers were released on Saturday.
In Islamabad, two cases were registered against more than 100 accused, including 20 workers of a religious party. In Karachi's Gulistan-e-Jauhar and Pehlwan Goth areas, three persons were arrested for firing and forcing people to shut down their businesses.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is currently on an official trip to China, reportedly expressed his anger over damage to public and private properties during the three-day-long protests.
Khan ordered the arrest of the people who were engaged in vandalism and directed the federal government to work in collaboration with the provincial governments, the report added.