LAHORE: Authorities released hundreds of detained supporters of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) on Tuesday after a deal was struck with the group to end clashes that martyred 11 policemen.
The group was protesting over the detention of its leader Saad Rizvi, arrested in April when the group was outlawed by authorities and was demanding the expulsion of the French ambassador from Pakistan.
The group has been behind major anti-France protests that earlier this year led to the French embassy issuing a warning for all its citizens to leave the country.
“I can confirm 860 people have been released,” Mazhar Hussain, a police spokesperson in Punjab province, told AFP.
Other detainees from the protest who had charges filed against them would have to go through the “legal process” to secure their release, he added.
A TLP leader, Mufti Muhammad Umair al-Azhari, also confirmed to AFP that many of the party’s supporters had been freed.
“These are clearly the fruits of the agreement that we had with the government,” he told AFP.
Several thousand supporters began a stop-start march from Lahore to the capital Islamabad last week, reaching about one-third of the way before calling it off.
But they are continuing the protest with a sit-in at a park in the city of Wazirabad, with leaders saying they will only disperse once 50 per cent of the terms of their agreement with the government are fulfilled.
The TLP claimed that 14 of its supporters were killed in the clashes with police and scores were left injured. The government said that the group’s supporters martyred 11 policemen.
Six police officers were killed in April this year when the outlawed TLP staged days of rallies that paralysed roads.
Following more than a week of clashes that left 11 policemen martyred and several others injured, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government on October 31 claimed to have reached an ‘agreement’ with the group but did not reveal any details.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, senior scholar of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and former chairman of Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman had announced that both the parties reached an agreement after successful negotiations.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser, Founder of Saylani Welfare Trust Maulana Bashir Farooq Qadri and TLP leaders were also present on this occasion
A day later, the group called off their march to the capital and ended its occupation of a major highway. After 11 days of the protest, Faizabad Interchange in Islamabad was also opened on Monday.