A container is being placed on Islamabad Expressway on Saturday to prevent the TLP marchers from reaching the capital. Long queues of vehicles can also be seen. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad
A container is being placed on Islamabad Expressway on Saturday to prevent the TLP marchers from reaching the capital. Long queues of vehicles can also be seen. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad

• Following reports of banned outfit workers assembling in city, Murree Road completely sealed, official says
• DC says district administration aware of public inconvenience due to closure of roads

RAWALPINDI: The Punjab government has put three companies of Rangers at the disposal of the district administration to meet any emergency in case the protest march of the proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) moves towards the city from Lahore or its local chapter tries to agitate.

A senior official of the district administration told Dawn that there were over 120 personnel in each company of Rangers, adding that though the law and order situation in the garrison city was stable, Rangers had been put on alert to deal with any untoward situation.

He said there were reports that TLP workers were gathering in the city, and to prevent them from holding a protest sit-in at Faizabad, Murree Road had been sealed.

He said many active TLP workers had been detained but some had gone underground to avoid arrest.

“In the past, most of the banned outfit’s workers hid in and around Murree Road but this time the government managed to sweep and clear the area from such troublemakers,” he added.

On the other hand, closure of roads from Saddar to Faizabad has not only created problems for the residents but also affected business activities in Raja Bazaar and Murree Road.

For the last four days, containers are blocking Murree Road and adjoining roads. As a result, patients heading to the District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital in Raja Bazaar, Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) on Murree Road and Holy Family Hospital in Satellite Town are facing inconvenience.

“We were already facing a financial crunch due to the Covid-19 pandemic and inflation. Now people are unable to visit the markets and bazaars due to closure of roads,” said Rawalpindi Traders Association President Sharjeel Mir while talking to Dawn.

Cantonment Traders Association Secretary General Zafar Qadri said the TLP protesters were still in Wazirabad but strangely roads in Saddar had been sealed.

He said for the last 50 years, he had never seen a protest demonstration in Saddar area but the administration had closed it as well.

When contacted, Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Ali said the district administration was fully aware of the problems being faced by the residents due to closure of roads but the step had been taken for the safety of their lives and property.

“For ambulances, the district administration has provided an alternative route so that serious patients could be transported to hospitals in the sealed area without any hurdle,” he added.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Oil Tankers Assocation, Noman Butt said: “Oil tankers are supplying petrol and diesel to all filling stations in the garrison city and the federal capital.”

APP adds: The City Traffic Police (CTP) Rawalpindi on Saturday completely closed Murree Road towards Faizabad on both sides by installing containers.

However, it said the citizens could enter Rawalpindi by using alternative routes of Islamabad Expressway and I.J. Principal Road.

The CTP has also created a diversion from the Ninth Avenue signal to Stadium Road, and advised the motorists to use Islamabad Expressway and I.J. Principal Road from Faizabad.

Moreover, due to another diversion at Haider Road turn to Murree Road, traffic was being diverted to Saddar. The commuters were asked to use Peshawar Road and the old Airport Road to enter Islamabad from Rawalpindi. Jhelum Road and the old Airport Road can be used to reach Rawalpindi from Rawat.

Gujar Khan

About 4,000 police personnel and 200 Rangers have been deployed in Jhelum to stop the TLP march towards Islamabad.

On the other hand, residents of Jhelum city are facing shortage of necessary items, including food and fuel, as all the entry and exit points had been sealed.

Most of the filling stations in the city remained closed for two days as they ran out of fuel.

“We have been completely disconnected from the rest of the country due to the closure of all entry and exit points of the city. Vegetables, fruits, petrol and other essential items are running out of stock and prices are skyrocketing,” said Shahbaz Butt, a resident of Jhelum.

Similarly, commuters who have to travel towards Gujrat and other areas remain stuck as G.T. Road had been closed with containers and trucks parked on bridges over Jhelum River.

— Additional reporting by Hamid Asghar

Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2021

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