ISLAMABAD: Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) workers and activists took to the streets against the arrest of their party chief Maulana Saad Rizvi, putting traffic out of gear in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamanbad on Monday.
Soon after the arrest of the TLP leader in Lahore, his messages were circulated on social media calling for the implementation of an agreement made with the government in February to expel the French ambassador by April 20.
In response to the call given by the local leaders, the TLP activists took to the streets and blocked roads at Bhara Kahu, Rawat, Tarnol and Liaquat Bagh.
Over 200 protesters gathered at Rawat Bazaar and closed it along with the nearby roads.
Protests held in Bhara Kahu, Rawat, Tarnol and Liaquat Bagh
More than 250 protesters assembled at Tarnol Chowk and block the roads. Athal Chowk on Murree Road was also blocked by the TLP activists.Police immediately took control of Faizabad Bridge and 10 reserves, teams from Counter-Terrorism Force, Anti-Riot Unit and Anti-Terrorism Squad were deployed there along with armed personnel carriers.
Besides, police were also deployed at Bhara Kahu, Rawat and Tarnol. Over two dozen leaders and active activists of the TLP were picked from different areas and put behind bars at the Secretariat, Koral, Sihala and Ramn police stations.The police also fired tear gas shells on protesters at Rawat T-Cross and arrested some of the protestors.
Due to the protests, thousands of vehicles remained stuck on the roads. As a result, the traffic load increased on other roads, including Srinagar Highway, Ninth Avenue and in G-10, G-9, I-8, I-9.
Murree Road and other busy arteries remained blocked during the protest in the garrison city.
The protesters gathered on Murree Road and staged a sit-in there. Holding batons and sticks, the TLP activists blocked the road by putting concrete blocks at Liaquat Bagh, Committee Chowk and Mareer Chowk.
At several places, stones and bricks were strewn on the road to prevent even pedestrians from crossing it.
As the TLP protesters blocked the roads, reinforcement of riot police, many wearing bulletproof vests and helmets, reached Liaquat Bagh.At Liaquat Bagh Chowk, the protesters deflated tyres of Rawalpindi Waste Management Company dumpers loaded with garbage. Hundreds of commuters and residents of the city faced hardship due to the closure of the roads.
There was already a gridlock at Mareer and Liaquat Bagh chowks since Monday morning as the City Traffic Police and the RDA had started installing fish bellies there.
TLP activists also blocked G.T. Road in Taxila.
The main entry and exit points of Taxila and Attock were blocked and traffic flow towards Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the northern areas remained suspended.
This resulted congestion on Islamabad-Peshawar Motorway and Brahma-Bhattar Interchange.
Traffic between KP and Punjab was also put out of gear on Rawalpindi-Kohat road as the protesters blocked the road near Jand.
G.T. Road was blocked on both sides at Dina, Gujar Khan and Rawat soon after the arrest of the TLP leader.
Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters gathered at G.T. Road in Gujar Khan and blocked it.
Assistant Commissioner Dina Waqar Hussain held talks with TLP emir of district Jhelum Asim Rizvi but the party activists said they would continue the protest till the release of their leader.
— Additional reporting by Amjad Iqbal & Hamid Asghar
Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2021