The weekly bazaar in H-9 gives a deserted look on Friday. Residents of the twin cities have been suffering since the weekly bazaars in H-9 and G-10 were closed after the Azadi March participants camped near Peshawar Mor. — White Star
The weekly bazaar in H-9 gives a deserted look on Friday. Residents of the twin cities have been suffering since the weekly bazaars in H-9 and G-10 were closed after the Azadi March participants camped near Peshawar Mor. — White Star

ISLAMABAD: With the change in weather conditions, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) seems to be losing the strength of its marchers. Local leaders of the party started a campaign in mosques of Rawalpindi and Islamabad during Friday congregations urging people to join the Azadi March.

Though people who have come from other parts of the country are still camping at the site, the locals who had joined the Azadi March on Oct 31 are going back to their homes as the weather changed.

Some people had joined the protest march from Jhelum, Chakwal, Attock and adjoining areas but after the heavy rain some of them went back. Compared to last week, the number of participants at the site has reduced. Mostly people who came from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Sindh and inner Punjab are still in the camp.

JUI-F sympathisers in mosques urge people during Friday congregations to join sit-in

Sensing the situation, clerics in main mosques of Deobandi school of thought, especially belonging to the JUI-F’s like-minded groups, urged people during their Friday sermons to support the Azadi March.

“We came from Gujar Khan and joined the march on Thursday but have to go back for a day or two as his father was ill. But we will come back,” said Inamullah, a protester who was carrying a bag on his shoulder and going toward Karachi Company.

He said he had gotten permission from his companions and would come back.

Mohammad Tauqeer, a resident of Lalazar, said remained at the sit-in for two days and now would be coming to the site every morning to go back in the evening. He said he and his friends had decided not to stay at the site at night.

He said it was not easy to spend night under the open sky, adding the government did not facilitate the protesters.

Nasir Abbasi, another protester, said people also joined the sit-in from Rawalpindi and Islamabad and adjoining areas. He said if the participants had gone back they would come again the next day so it would not affect the number of people.

He said some people come in private cars and spent night in their vehicles parked along the weekly bazaar. He said the JUI-F also conveyed the message to all its supporters to come to the site to show the strength in next two days.

Attiqur Rehman, a resident of Attock, said some party workers had gone back to bring more people in the shape of rallies. He said mobile phone and social media were being used to contact workers and supporters of the JUI-F.

Weekly bazaar closed

The residents of Islamabad, especially those living in G-9 and adjoining areas, are facing problems as the weekly bazaar remained closed on Friday due to the sit-in of the JUI-F.

Roads are closed, metro bus service suspended and containers are placed nearby. The police are deployed along 9th Avenue who are allowing only participants of the Azadi March to proceed to Kashmir Highway on foot.

People are also facing problems to go to the main fruit and vegetable market at H-II for their weekly shopping. They feared that political gathering would create further problems at the weekend.

“Political parties should use Parade Ground or other venues for their public meetings instead of the main roads. It took me two hours to reach Sabzi Mandi due to the traffic congestion caused by the JUI-F sit-in,” said Sanaullah Khan, a resident of Karachi Company.

He said the government should impose a ban on holding of public meetings on main roads.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2019