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FATEHJANG: The followers of a local spiritual leader blocked the G.T. Road for nearly 11 hours on Sunday after police arrested him for violating Section 144.

Syed Amjad Hussain Shah, who is the successor of local saint Pir Muzzafar Shah Qutbal, was arrested for violating Section 144, which prohibits public gatherings of five or more people, processions and rallies in any public place within the limits of the area where the law has been imposed.

The pir had organised a Mehfil-i-Naat at the shrine of his ancestor in Qutbal, which locals say has been held every year since partition.

The event, which was held on Saturday night, ended around 3am on Sunday morning. Following Fajr prayers, Lah Rasab Khan, the local station house officer, arrived at the shrine and got into an argument with Mr Shah, booking him for violating Section 144.

When his followers learned of the pir’s detention, a large number of them came out onto the G.T. Road, which connects Punjab with KP, and blocked it.

The resulting traffic mess forced several motorists to take an extended detour through Bhatar and Taxila, and traffic remained blocked on the road until around 5pm.

DPO Irfanullah Marwat and Attock Deputy Commissioner Rana Akbar Hayat held negotiations with protesters, who demanded Mr Shah’s release and called for disciplinary action against the concerned SHO.

The protesters dispersed peacefully after Mr Shah was released and brought to the scene, where he addressed the mob and reassured them that justice would be served.

Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2017