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LAHORE: Scores of workers of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) were booked and later released late on Monday after they blocked the main road in Iqbal Town in protest against the police for arresting whom they said were party workers during a search operation.

The protesters placed a tractor trolley on the road and raised slogans against the police for allegedly picking up party activists during a search operation in the area. They demanded release of the two alleged drug peddlers, who had been arrested from Bhekewal, saying they were party voters. Police, however, booked over a dozen protesters on the directions of the high-ups for creating chaos in the area.

Iqbal Town Superintendent of Police (SP) Syed Ali told Dawn that dozens of policemen and Counter-Terrorism Department officials conducted a search operation in Iqbal Town late on Monday. They arrested an allegedly notorious drug peddler Hanif and his wife Nasira and seized a large quantity of opium and other drugs from their house.

Some locals scuffled with police over the arrest and injured officials, including Gulshan-i-Ravi Station House Officer Inspector Abdul Aziz, he added. The locals also abused the lady police constables who were part of the raiding team, he said, adding that police took them to the police station along with the arrested couple, and registered a criminal case against them.

Later, some protesters were also booked who had blocked the road for over three hours against the arrests, the SP added. PTI workers alleged that police had arrested party activists. Party leaders Shafqat Mahmood and Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed as well as Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations) Asad Sarfraz and other senior officers rushed to the scene to defuse tension.

After negotiations with the PTI leaders, police released the party workers on personal guarantee and asked them to seek bail in the morning.

Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2018