LAHORE/KARACHI/PESHAWAR: Police on Wednesday used brute force, tear gas and baton-charged the PTI leaders and workers to deter them from moving towards Islamabad as part of the “Azadi March”, especially in Lahore and Karachi.
The police meted out the worst treatment to the PTI workers and leaders in Lahore. The provincial capital on Wednesday witnessed violent clashes between the PTI workers and the riot police, as the administration had blocked all exit points of the City, leading towards Islamabad.
The police fired tear-gas shells to disperse the PTI workers near Bhatti Chowk, Shahdara, Aiwan-e-Adl, Ravi Bridge and other areas. They baton-charged the workers and leaders who were attempting to defy the barricades put in place to stop them from moving towards Islamabad.
At some places, the PTI workers managed to proceed toward Islamabad by pushing aside containers amid tear-gas shelling.
The vehicle of PTI leader Dr Yasmin Rashid was also damaged and she reportedly received minor injuries. Dr Yasmin, in a statement, alleged that the windscreen of her vehicle was broken by the police.
Later, Dr Yasmin along with Andaleeb Abbas was arrested at Batti Chowk. The police tried to arrest senior PTI leaders Shafqat Mahmood and Hammad Azhar, who were leading rallies. The PTI lawyers and workers also scuffled with police outside Aiwan-e-Adl and Post Master General office.
The police, however, arrested dozens of PTI leaders and workers including Andleeb Abbas, Mian Mehmood ur-Rasheed, Jamshed Iqbal and Senator Ijaz Chaudhry. Some of them were released later.
As soon as the long march of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) started in the provincial capital, clashes between police and workers erupted in different areas, turning some parts of the city into a battlefield.
According to details, caravans of PTI Lahore had come from different parts of the city to gather at Batti Chowk to participate in the long march on the call of former prime minister Imran Khan from where they were to leave for Islamabad in caravans.
When the workers tried to remove the barricades from Batti Chowk and move out of the city, the police charged them with baton and shelling knocking a female PTI leader unconscious. Meanwhile, the police also attacked the vehicle of PTI leader Dr Yasmeen Rashid and broke the wind screen of the vehicle. However, Yasmeen Rashid’s vehicle went ahead breaking the police cordon.
However, Lahore police arrested Dr Yasmeen Rashid and Andalib Abbas but they were later released whereas the CCPO Lahore claimed that Dr Rashid and Andalib were not arrested as both women themselves remained in the police vehicle. He said that both were taken out of the police vehicle later.
Similarly, Lahore police also tried to arrest Hammad Azhar, a key PTI leader, near Shahdara Chowk. On the other hand, a large number of lawyers were present outside Awan-i-Adl to participate in the long march, where the police charged them with baton and fired tear gas on them.
The police also arrested some lawyers.
The police and the district administration closed teh city at 14 points while the citizens who went out of the city faced severe difficulties. Obstacles were erected from Kachehri Chowk to Datadarbar and containers were placed from Pir Makki to Azadi Chowk while the roads from Azadi Chowk to Bhatti Chowk were also blocked.
Similarly, roads from Rettigan Chowk to SSP office were also blocked and containers were placed from Rettigan Chowk to Bilal Ganj. Moreover, roads from Istanbul Chowk to PMG Chowk, Bhatti Chowk to Azadi Chowk Flyover remained blocked and Ravi Bridge, Old Bridge, Lakkar Mandi were closed with containers.
The administration also closed the entry and exit points of Thokar Niaz Baig, Mahmood Buti Motorway and M-2 Lahore-Islamabad Motorway from Thokar Niaz Baig and a heavy contingent of police was also deployed on these points.
PTI WORKER’S DEATH
A PTI worker fell down and lost his life in a clash with police at Ravi Bridge in Lahore. The participant in the deceased PTI worker was identified as Faisal, a resident of Iqbal Town. Faisal Abbasi was rushed to hospital in critical condition after falling from the bridge but he could not survive.
PETROL AND DIESEL SHORTAGE
Due to the closure of routes due to long march, the supply of petroleum products could not reach Lahore, which led to shortage of petroleum products in the city and the shortage of petroleum products has started in different parts of the city.
Petrol and diesel have gone missing in Dharampura, Garhi Shahu, Ravi Road, Shadbagh, Shahdara, Lower Mall and other areas and citizens who used to come for petrol were worried.
According to petroleum dealers, the daily consumption of petroleum products in the city was 3 million litres and if the roads remain closed, the shoratge will become a crisis.
SHORTAGE OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
The closure of all entry and exit points of the City adversely affected the normal supply of vegetables and fruit supply to the city markets. The shortage led to increasing in the prices of the commodities.
President Badami Bagh Fruit and Vegetable Market, Ejaz Chaudhry informed that 700 to 800 vehicles used to come to Badami Bagh Mandi on daily basis. But today [Wednesday] only about 350 of could reach the market, he added.
Similarly, supply could not reach vegetable and fruit market of Kahna Kachha and only 30 trucks could reach while vegetables and fruits worth millions of rupees were damaged in the vehicles stuck due roads closure.
Speaking to Pakistan Today, the vegetable and fruit sellers said that due to shortage of supply, prices have also gone up sharply which has affected both vendors and citizens.
CLASHES IN KARACHI
Sindh Police and PTI workers clashed at Karachi’s busy intersection Numaish Chowrangi. The party workers torched a police van and removed all the hurdles created by the law enforcement agencies.
The police resorted to aerial firing and tear gas shelling to disperse the protesters. However, the PTI workers responded by throwing stones at the law enforcers.
The police resorted to the worst treatment of the protesting workers and arrested some of them.
‘NOBODY WILL BE ALLOWED TO ENTER CAPTIAL’
“Nobody should be allowed to besiege the capital and dictate his terms,” Minister for Interior Rana Sanaullah said Tuesday.
Schools in Islamabad and Rawalpindi were closed and all exams cancelled, while a state of emergency was declared at all hospitals, with staff put on alert.
“We have seen the capital blocked before but this is something unprecedented,” Islamabad private school worker Allah Ditta, 52, told AFP.
Salon worker Sawera Masih complained that the wide-scale disruption was falling hardest on daily wage workers like herself.
“Whoever is in power doesn’t make a difference to us, but not earning even for a single day affects me and my family,” the 23-year-old said.
‘DON’T FEAR ARRESTS’
Meanwhile, Khan said he would reach the D-Chowk neighbourhood of Islamabad at 3:00 pm and urged his followers to do the same.
He will reach Swabi by helicopter from Peshawar, leading the procession from Ambar Interchange.
In a video message for his supporters ahead of the march, he announced his party’s only demand is a free and fair snap election and they won’t go home until they get the date for the polls.
“Don’t be afraid of prisons,” the former prime minister said to his activists and supporters. “Our future generations would not forgive us if we did not come out today,” he added.