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ISLAMABAD: Life remained normal in the federal capital till the sunset on Saturday when clashes erupted between the activists of the PTI and law enforcement agencies in Banigala.

A traffic gridlock was also caused at Tarnol after roads were blocked there by the police to intercept the PTI workers coming to the capital.

At the Banigala residence of Imran Khan, the activists started the police with stones after some of the party leaders announced that they would lock down Islamabad at all costs on Nov 2. In retaliation, the law enforcement agencies used batons and tear gas shells to disperse them.

The clash, which erupted at around 5pm, continued for over an hour with intervals. The police and other law enforcement personnel pushed the workers towards the hillside but the latter would come back and throw stones on the police.

Scores of people, including the PTI workers and police officials, sustained minor injuries after being hit by stones and batons, a police official said.

The number of police and paramilitary troops deployed in Banigala has, in the meantime, increased to 1,500, he said.

So far, six cases have been registered at the Banigala, Golra and Kohsar police stations against the PTI workers and 140 of them have been arrested and sent to jail on a judicial remand since October 28, he added.

The police blocked roads at Tarnol near the railway track on Saturday morning. Only one side of the road remained open at both the exit and entry points. As a result, traffic remained jammed there with long queues of vehicles extending to about five kilometres.

The police were looking for PTI workers coming to the capital to join the Nov 2 protest of the party.

Rana Asim, a resident of Rawalpindi, told Dawn: “I travel on the road daily to come to Islamabad and back but today it was partially sealed.” People traveling with their families, including women and children, were stuck there for hours, he added.

A resident of Islamabad, Raja Akram, said due to the blockade of the road, the commuters started using link roads to reach their destinations but they were also closed.

A police officer, when contacted, claimed that strict surveillance had been mounted at the entry points of the capital to check the entry of militants in the disguise of the PTI workers.

“This is a precautionary measure due to the prevailing situation,” he added.

Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2016