Govt releases 860 workers of banned group, decides to withdraw appeal against leader

Punjab Law Ministry decides to release workers not nominated in any case but fate of all those facing cases is yet to be decided

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Following the agreement with the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), the Punjab government released 860 workers detained in different jails across the province, and decided to withdraw the appeal seeking extension in detention of its chief Hafiz Saad Rizvi.

Sources privy to the development confirmed to Minute Mirror on Tuesday that directions were issued to all deputy commissioners of the province to release detained workers of the banned outfit.

“860 TLP workers out of 2060 have been set free,” said an official of the Punjab Home department, adding that directions were also given to the deputy commissioner across the province for release of the workers.

The official said that the steering committee held a meeting in Lahore which also suggested that an appeal seeking extension in detention of TLP chief Saad Rizvi should be withdrawn.

The development took place after the PTI government signed an agreement with banned TLP on Sunday.

The sources said that Federal Minister Ali Mohammad Khan chaired the Steering Committee meeting while Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat, secretary of the Interior Ministry, the additional chief secretary, Punjab Home Department officials and others as well as some representatives of the banned outfit were also present.

“The workers who have not been facing any case have been set free,” said the official.

When contacted, the Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat said they released the workers of the banned outfit who were not booked in any case.  However, he also added that the fate of the workers who were booked and facing the cases was yet to be decided.

“We scrutinized the workers taken into custody and set free all those who have not been nominated in any case,” said Raja Basharat, pointing out that a decision about the workers who were taken into custody under Section 16 of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) 1960 was yet to be made.

On the other hand, details of the agreement were not shared by either side but the leaders close to the TLP chief told Minute Mirror that Hafiz Saad Rizvi was given amnesty under the deal.  However, they said that they were not sure about the release of their leader. They said they were still protesting in Wazirabad and would continue their protest until their Quaid (leader) was released.

The banned TLP workers started their protests and long march on Oct 19, 2021 after the Punjab government refused to release Hafiz Saad Rizvi and moved an appeal against the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) verdict in which his release was ordered. The appeal was still pending before a LHC division bench for the last couple of weeks.

The sources claimed that the government promised to unfreeze accounts of the banned outfit and to lift the ban. But the government clearly said that the cases registered under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, against the banned TLP’s leadership and its workers would only be decided by the courts.

Meanwhile, the body of another policeman namely Adnan Ehsan was recovered from the fields of the Wazirabad area. According to Gujranwala police spokesperson, the constable was abducted on the night after the day of talks between the government and the TLP leadership on Sunday.  The victim’s family said that the constable was provided a rod instead of a weapon and was left at the mercy of the protesters in Wazirabad.

Fida Hussnain is a correspondent covering judiciary, politics, business and health issues. He is also a feature writer and researcher with major work on freedom of press in Pakistan. He tweets @fidahassanain and can be reached at