LAHORE: Clashes between Pakistan Awami Tehrik chairman Dr Tahirul Qadri’s supporters and the Punjab police intensified on Saturday, leaving a constable dead and a number of people, including PAT protesters, injured across the province.
Meanwhile, one of the policemen injured in a Lahore clash two days ago died at Lahore General Hospital.
There were contradictory claims from the PML-N government and Dr Qadri about the number of people killed, injured and detained in the clashes that erupted on Friday.
Constable, protester killed
Qadri put the death toll of his party workers at eight while Punjab police insisted that only one Pakistan Awami Tahrik worker and a policeman lost their lives in the clashes.
Qadri told a news conference at PAT headquarters that his party had lost eight activists while almost 2,000 others suffered injuries and 20,000 were detained in different parts of the province. However, Punjab police refuted the claim.
Police registered two more cases in Lahore under multiple sections of Pakistan Penal Code, 16-Miantennace of Public Order and 7-Anti-Terrorism Act on behalf of state against PAT leaders and activists for allegedly beating gunmen of the Lahore DCO and a judge, snatching weapons from security personnel, damaging vehicles and motorcycles, and holding six policemen hostage.
Police also arrested over 350 PAT activists in connection with multiple cases.
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Official statistics available with Dawn showed that Punjab police had detained as many as 1,310 PAT activists since the start of clashes on Friday.
According to a police spokeswoman, an Elite force constable, identified as 34-year-old Muhammad Fayyaz, died after he was allegedly tortured by PAT protesters at Bhera interchange on the Motorway.
She said up to 135 policemen were injured in 20 clashes, 22 made hostage while many others had gone missing.
She further said PAT workers had damaged police stations and vehicles, besides burning government record.
According to her, PAT workers used nail-studded sticks, slings, stones, knives and other weapons in their attacks on police.
Gujranwala City Police Officer Waqas Nazir; DSPs Rashid Sindhu, Rana Shafique and Abid Ghani; Inspectors Ghazanfar, Khadim, and Safdar; SIs Irshad Hussain, Riaz Hussain, Ahmad Shabbir and T/ASI Nasir suffered serious injuries.
Nine officials were injured in Lahore, 55 in Gujranwala, one in Okara, 25 in Bhakkar, 14 in Jhang, 13 in Rawalpindi, nine in districts of Sargodha and four in Toba Tek Singh.
As many as 55 police officials were injured in a clash with PAT activists on National Highway near toll plazas of Kamoki and Sadhoki in Gujranwala district.
In Sargodha district, 20 policemen and an equal number of PAT workers were injured in scuffles. The PAT alleged that a constable of the Elite force died in an accidental fire by his colleagues.
However, according to a source in Motorway police, the shooting took place during a clash between PAT activists and police on M-II.
A team of Sargodha’s regional police officer rescued 15 people allegedly made hostage by PAT workers at Bhera Interchange Motorway II.
Activists of the PAT, police alleged, also took 19 cops hostage in Attock, Jhelum and Chakwal districts of Rawalpindi region. In Jhelum, 12 Punjab Constabulary men suffered stone injuries. In Toba Tek Singh and Jhang, four policemen were injured and a vehicle damaged.
On orders of the provincial police chief, Lahore police removed containers and barriers from 10 entry/exist points.
Lahore DIG (Operations) Dr Haider Ashraf told Dawn that police constable Muhammad Ashraf of Narowal, who was doing guard duty outside the residence of former law minister Khalid Ranjha in Faisal Town, was taken hostage, dragged and beaten with clubs by PAT activists. He said Ashraf died of head wound at the LGH.
He, however, said containers and barriers would remain in place on all roads leading to Model Town and Faisal Town till further orders.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif announced a financial assistance of Rs10million for the heirs of constable Fayyaz. He also announced an assistance of Rs500,000 each for police officials injured at Bhera.
Published in Dawn, August 10th, 2014