JUI-F sit-in disrupts traffic on GT Road

Updated November 19, 2019

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People face problems due to a sit-in by JUI-F activists near Shahdara. — White Star
People face problems due to a sit-in by JUI-F activists near Shahdara. — White Star

LAHORE: A few hundred workers of the of JUI-F staged a sit-in on the Grand Trunk Road for nearly five hours as part of their protest Plan-B and disrupted traffic between Lahore and Rawalpindi for nearly five hours.

The charged workers carrying banners and flags raised slogans against the PTI leadership while sitting on the one side of the road. However, they stayed peaceful and allowed the traffic to pass through the service lane. This too caused huge disruption given the quantum of vehicles plying on the road.

According to the local leadership of the party, the plan-B against PTI government had not originally include blocking of the main roads leading to Lahore but on Sunday they were instructed by the central leadership to begin blocking the major arteries leading to the provincial metropolis.

Workers occupied the spot after Zohr prayers (at around 2pm), spread mats on the road and set up barricades, as the police began diverting the traffic to the service roads or alternative routes. Yet the creation of a bottleneck resulted in the disruption of traffic moving between Lahore and Gujranwala towards Rawalpindi, causing long queues. According to party sources, the daily sit-in on GT Road would continue till the next instruction.

Workers staging the sit-in left the venue as the night set in allowing normal traffic on the road.

No central leader came to attend the protest, which was largely led by local leaders. They told reporters that the objective was not to block traffic or cause problems for commuters and public but only to register the protest and public anger against, what they called, anti-people policies of the selected government which imposing foreign agenda on the people of Pakistan.

“That is why we let the traffic ply and tried to minimise trouble for people,” said one of the local leaders. The party does not want to add to people’s problems as they are already facing harsh financial troubles, which are making it difficult to make both ends meet.

“Our fear is that people will continue facing the killing price hike till this ‘selected government’ is removed from the office and that is what the JUI-F is out to do,” he insisted, saying that it was only implementing foreign agenda that was detrimental to the nation and its Islamic identity.

Reply sought: The Lahore High Court on Monday sought reply from the federal government on a petition challenging the “Plan-B” for protest demonstrations in major cities by Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F).

Representing the petitioner, Advocate Nadeem Sarwar contended before the court that JUI-F chief Maulana Fazalur Rehman after ending the Islamabad sit-in/Azadi March announced “Plan B” and expanded their protest activities across Pakistan.

He said the party blocked main thoroughfares in all provinces causing serious trouble to the public at large. He argued that the act of the respondent party was a clear violation of Article 15 of the Constitution that guaranteed right to free movement.

The counsel said the blocking of public roads was also an offence punishable under section 141 and 339 of Pakistan Penal Code. The JUI-F leaders were equally liable for punishment abetting and instigating the commission of an offence, he added.

He argued that the respondent put the country under serious threat and created a law and order situation just for the sake of political gains. He said the government was duty bound to protect fundamental rights of citizens and courts being guardian of citizens’ rights were under a legal and moral obligation to protect their rights.

The counsel asked the court to restrain the JUI-F chief and its other leaders from blocking and obstructing roads for being an unconstitutional and unlawful act. He also asked the court to order the government to take action under the law against the protesters and the party’s leadership for abetting and instigating the unlawful protest.

Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti heard the arguments and directed a law officer to submit reply on behalf of the federal government for a date to be fixed by the registrar office.

Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2019