LAHORE: The capital city police arrested more than 170 workers of the Tehreek-e-Lubbaik-Ya-Rasool-Allah (Peace be upon him) on Wednesday to stop them from holding a rally on the day of the anniversary of former governor Salmaan Taseer’s assassination.

Asif, an activist of the Tehreek-e-Lubbaik-Ya-Rasool Allah (PBUH), told Dawn that the demonstrators were planning to stop civil society activists from holding a memorial for the late governor. He said they had also wanted to protest against the genocide of Muslims in Burma (now Myanmar), the Sindh Assembly’s stance on forced conversions and revisions to the school curriculum.

They were joined by members of the Sunni Tehreek and the Tehreek-e-Khatme Nabuwat.

A candlelit vigil held by civil society activists to mark the anniversary of Taseer’s assassination was attacked in Jan 2015.

“We had also planned to pay tribute to Mumtaz Qadri,” Asif said, adding that the police had not allowed them to protest and had baton-charged their supporters at various points when they tried to gather at Liberty Chowk, the protest venue.

The government had instructed police to stop these organisations from holding such a rally.

City police had taken precautionary measures and erected blockades at several junctions in the city, from Garden Town’s Barkat Market to Siddique Centre in Gulberg, to prevent the gathering.

Severe traffic jams persisted along the routes throughout the day as most roads, underpasses and overhead bridges leading to the site were blocked for any kind of traffic. Even pedestrians were not allowed.

Heavy police contingents were deployed at Kalma Chowk and several people clashed with the police when they stopped them from travelling on the Gulberg Main Boulevard. The Metro Bus Service was also suspended after some clerics and their followers walked onto the track.

Operations DIG Haider Ashraf told Dawn that the organisation had sought permission to hold the rally but were refused. The government had then directed the police to take action if they tried to go ahead with it. He said 178 workers of the Tehreek-e-Lubbaik-Ya-Rasool-Allah (PBUH) were arrested as a precautionary step.

Published in Dawn January 5th, 2017