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JUI-F issued NOC by ICT

29 October, 2019

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ISLAMABAD/RAWALPINDI: The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) has been issued an no-objection certificate (NOC) by the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration to hold its Azadi March in the city on Oct 31.

Administration officials said the NOC was issued after they received reports from the police’s operation division and Special Branch (the police intelligence wing), even though these reports recommended against allowing the march.

The Special Branch had also referenced a specific threat alert issued by the National Counter Terrorism Authority and the Ministry of Interior that said that JUI-F, PTI, PML-N, PPP and Awami National Party leaders and law enforcement authorities could be targeted by terrorists.

The NOC was issued by Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat. The organisers of the event have been asked to submit an undertaking to abide by the terms and conditions of the certificate, the officials said.

Mr Shafqaat has allowed the JUI-F to hold the march on the H-9 right-of-way by the weekly market with “temporary stationing” in the parking of the metro bus depot.

The NOC states that the JUI-F will be responsible for making internal security arrangements for participants, a list of whom will also be shared in advance with the local police. No damage will be caused to public or private property, and in case of any damage the organiser will be held responsible.

The organisers will also take the responsibility that participants will not move beyond the identified boundaries of the venue and that speech against the state, any religion or the ideology of Pakistan will not be made.

Weapons and firearms of any kind will not be allowed near the venue, but anything required for the internal security of participants will be allowed subject to approval from the administration, the NOC says.

It also said that participants and organisers must adhere to the police’s traffic management and parking plans, and police and law enforcement will not be obstructed while checking or searching any vehicles or people attending the event.

The organisers and the police will jointly search participants upon entry, and organisers will be responsible for any human injury or health issue caused by internal arrangements inside the venue.

The organisers will also ensure security is arranged for participants, including maintaining a minimum setback area of 45 metres between the stage and the first row of the audience, the NOC says. A list of people allowed on stage must be provided to the administration.

Participants will not enter any restricted area or obstruct public or private thoroughfare, and infants, children and minors below 18 will not be allowed at the venue. Other than lawful guardians, the organisers will be responsible in this regard.

The NOC also said that the consumption of intoxicants or banned substances will not be allowed at the venue, and such substances will not be served. If a situation arises out of the violation of this condition that leads to the use of force, the organisers will be responsible for any casualties.

After the NOC was issued, a JUI-F delegation that included General Secretary Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Deputy Commissioner Mr Shafqaat and other officials visited the venue.

Mr Shafqaat told JUI-F leaders about measures advised for them, including for security, and points of entry and exit, parking space, toilets and food and water distribution points and the area for the stage were also discussed.

The group reached an agreement on the route of the Azadi March will take to enter the capital. The section of the march coming from the G.T. Road will enter the capital from Rawat and use the Expressway, I.J. Principal Road and 9th Avenue to get to the venue. The section coming from the motorway will use Kashmir Highway, and these roads will be closed when the rally nears.

The Red Zone has been partially sealed and entry into this area has been restricted until the march concludes, the officials said. This step was taken in response to concerns expressed by diplomats, as the zone also includes the Diplomatic Enclave.

As of 8pm on Monday, the Azadi March led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman had reached Ghotki district in Sindh. This section of the march consists of 32,000 participants, 1,080 vehicles and 1,000 workers from the recently banned Ansarul Islam.

The Rawalpindi police have made two plans for the Azadi March, one in the event that the authorities ask police to stop participants and another if they are allowed to move towards the venue on Peshawar Mor.

Under the second plan, participants of the march coming from Punjab will be diverted to the Islamabad Expressway from T-Chowk, Rawat to Faizabad. From there they will head towards Peshawar Mor.

He added that rallies from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will be diverted to Kashmir Highway, while rallies from Murree and Azad Kashmir will reach Faizabad and then take 9th Avenue to the venue.

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