The Supreme Court (SC), resuming hearing of the Faizabad sit-in suo motu case on Friday, was told that an Anti-Riots law was being drafted to deal with protesters.
The apex court had taken notice of the disruption of daily life in Islamabad and Rawalpindi due to a 20-day sit-in led by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik in Nov 2017. The protests ended after the government agreed to a list of demands presented by the agitators after a series of failed rounds of mediation and a botched operation to clear the Faizabad Interchange, where the sit-in was being held.
The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Islamabad police both submitted reports to court regarding the protest today. This is is the second time the ISI has been ordered to submit a report on the protest, after the first report was found unsatisfactory.
The two-judge bench, comprising Justice Musheer Alam and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel, expressed dissatisfaction over both reports submitted in court today.
The judges cross-questioned Attorney General (AG) Ashtar Ausaf about steps taken against the agitators. “It seems as though anyone can paralyse the government in order to get their demands met,” Justice Musheer noted.
“It seems to be quite an easy thing to do,” Justice Mazhar remarked, “To gather a few people and get your demands met after immobilising the government.”
“It means that they can simply walk from Lahore to Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh and there is no one to stop them,” he added.
Justice Musheer asked the AG to tell the court of what steps had been taken against the leader of the protest. “Has the protest leader or any other participant of the sit-in been placed on the government’s watch list currently or previously?”
In response to the judge’s questions, AG Ashtar Ausaf said that the TLY was a registered party.
Justice Mazhar asked whether being the leader of a political party gave one the freedom to do as they please without question.
“How many protesters were booked?” Justice Musheer asked the AG, who replied saying that 418 people had been arrested and booked.
The judge also enquired about the status of compensation for the families of injured or slain police officers, to which the court was told that only one child had died in the federal capital. The others who died during protests were not from Islamabad, the AG said.
Ashtar Ausaf told the court that an Anti-Riot law was being drafted in order to deal with agitators, adding that it would be approved by Parliament soon.
The judges ordered the AG to submit a report on the matter within two weeks.