ISLAMABAD: Law enforcement agencies’ intensive shelling of tear gas on the protestors staging a sit-in at Faizabad interchange on Saturday made movement impossible for residents of the area, forcing them to stay indoors the entire day.
Residents of adjoining I-8, Margalla Town, Sohan, Sharifabad and other areas were the next sufferers from the shelling exchanged between the law enforcers and the protesters, which started at about 7 am and continued till 1 pm.
Residents of the areas affected by Islamabad police and Frontier Constabulary’s (FC) shelling complained of breathing problems even when they remained inside their houses.
Wearing a disposable surgical mask on his nose and mouth, Sohan resident Ahmed Hussain, told Pakistan Today that the prolonged and intensive shelling of tear gas forced him and his family to stay inside their house as they could smell the gas despite its distance from the protest site.
A Margalla Town resident, purchasing disposable masks at a medical store, said, “I am surprised that the protesters are able to stay at the interchange; the gas is making movement extremely difficult even in adjoining areas.”
Sector I-8/2 resident Wazir Nusrat remarked, “I cannot understand the logic behind law enforcers’ continued shelling while maintaining a considerable distance from the protestors. The law enforcers are apparently not moving forward and, instead of leading the operation to a conclusion, are waiting for the protesters to flee themselves. There should be a limit to shelling as residents of the entire sector are facing trouble. The major part of the sector is engulfed in smoke.”
Dr Junaid of a private clinic at Sohan claimed that people, especially elders, were complaining of headaches after breathing in the teargas smoke spread in the area. He recommended that the residents wore tight-fitting respirators with appropriate filters, such as a full-face mask, when leaving their houses. “Tear gas comes in particles as well as gaseous forms, so one needs protection from both, especially when one is subjected to teargas for extended periods,” he said.
Residents of the affected area had, for the past 20 days, been used to walking a few kilometres as highways and link roads were blocked by law enforcers. However, even this was made impossible on Saturday due to the six-hour long teargas shelling by police.
A resident Mumtaz complained that he was unable to find either Uber or Careem services to take him to the airport. A Careem driver, in his turn, said that he could not risk his life or property by accepting rides from the affected areas.
The operation against the protestors was launched by Islamabad police, FC personnel and other law enforcement agencies earlier on Saturday after the last of a long series of deadlines had lapsed without response from the agitating parties. About 8,500 law enforcement personnel subsequently encircled Faizabad Interchange and used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the agitators. In response, the protesters used stones and rocks to attack the advancing security forces.
The protesters have been camped out at the Faizabad Interchange since Nov 8.