The government has opened negotiations with recently outlawed religious party after they freed 11 policemen abducted during week-long protests against France, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said on Monday. The policemen were abducted during clashes outside TLP headquarters in Lahore. Photographs of the police officers, with their heads, legs and arms heavily bandaged, were posted on social media by their captors. “They’ve released the 11 policemen they had held hostage,” Sh Rashid said in a video statement. He said negotiations with the TLP are under way. He said the first round of talks have been concluded positively following which the policemen made hostage were released by banned TLP and the protesters had gone inside the Masjid Rehmatulil Alameen and police had also been withdrawn from there. He hoped that other matters would also be resolved in the next round of talks. Out of 192 blockades, he said only one was remaining and the situation was improving there as well. “There have been two rounds of the talks and another is scheduled for later in the night,” Religious Affairs Minister Noor-ul-Haq Qadri told parliament. “We believe in negotiations and reconciliation to sort out issues,” he added. Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid and Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri were to meet workers of TLP at 10pm in the night for the third round of talks, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said. The first round of talks between the Punjab government and workers of the banned party took place on Sunday and the second round concluded earlier on Monday, Chaudhry said in a tweet. Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar and provincial Law Minister Raja Basharat represented the government in the second round, according to Chaudhry. The TLP has put forth four demands: the expulsion of the French ambassador over President Emmanuel Macron’s explicit backing of blasphemous cartoons, the release of party chief Saad Rizvi, the removal of the ban on the party and the release of activists arrested as well as the FIRs against them to be revoked. Meanwhile, police has registered a first information report (FIR) against 23 TLP workers for ‘kidnapping the DSP, causing damage to government property, spreading fear and terror in the area through firing, and throwing petrol bombs and acid-filled bottles inside the police station’. In the FIR, complainant Mohammad Waqas said that he was present inside the Nawankot police station when workers of the banned TLP gathered outside in a large number and started chanting slogans. “They set the gate on fire and pushed it so it fell inwards. They started pelting stones inside the premises of the station and throwing petrol bombs and acid-filled bottles. Around 250-300 workers armed with weapons and sticks entered the station and started damaging the motorcycles parked inside. They also vandalised the offices of the DSP and SHO.” The FIR said that when the DSP tried to talk to the workers, they tortured him instead of listening to him. They took the DSP and other employees hostage and moved them amid intense firing and the presence of 2,500-3,000 TLP workers, it added. The FIR was registered under the Anti-Terrorism Act as well as Sections 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine a person), 324 (attempt to murder), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 452 (trespassing after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), 427 (mischief causing damage), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy), 290 (public nuisance), 291 (continuance of nuisance after injunction to discontinue), 379 (theft) and 109 (punishment of abetment if the Act abetted committed In consequence and where no express provision is made for its punishment) of the Pakistan Penal Code.