Lahore, Nov 12 (IANS) An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Lahore on Tuesday formally charged Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi and 26 others in a case related to the violent protests initiated by the TLP following a Supreme Court verdict acquitting Aasia Bibi in a blasphemy case last year.
ATC-I Judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta announced the charges brought against the religio-political leaders. Strict security arrangements had been made for the proceedings, The Dawn reported.
A total of 26 suspects – including Rizvi and TLP patron-in-chief Pir Afzal Qadri – were issued copies of the challan. Some of the suspects appeared in court along with counsels Tahir Minhas and Nasir Minhas.
Additionally, the ATC issued summons for the witnesses for the next hearing which will be held on November 13.
Violent protests had erupted in different parts of the country soon after the Supreme Court’s verdict acquitting Aasia Bibi was announced on October 31, 2018, as activists of the TLP and other religious parties took to the streets and blocked major roads and intersections through sit-ins and by putting up barricades. The protests continued for three days.
The FIR against the accused referenced Sections 290, 291, 353, 427, 186 and 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), Section 6 of the Sound System Punjab Ordinance, 2015 and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
Rizvi was taken into protective custody by police on November 23, 2018 amidst a massive crackdown against TLP workers.