Red Zone sealed after police, PTI workers clash

Published May 26, 2022
(Clockwise from top) Motorcyclists try to pass through a narrow opening between trucks at Committee Chowk, nails have been fixed on Murree Road at Faizabad, motorcycles of PTI supporters lie abandoned near Sixth Road flyover while metro buses are parked on the track at the Liaquat Bagh station in Rawalpindi on Wednesday. — Photos by Mohammad Asim
(Clockwise from top) Motorcyclists try to pass through a narrow opening between trucks at Committee Chowk, nails have been fixed on Murree Road at Faizabad, motorcycles of PTI supporters lie abandoned near Sixth Road flyover while metro buses are parked on the track at the Liaquat Bagh station in Rawalpindi on Wednesday. — Photos by Mohammad Asim

• 13 security officials injured at different points
• Rangers deployed in area
• Margalla Road also closed

ISLAMABAD: Security of Red Zone was handed over to Rangers after the area was completely sealed on Wednesday night, officials of the capital administration and police said.

The step was taken after Jinnah Avenue saw pitched battles between Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) activists led by the party’s MNAs and police personnel.

On the other hand, six Rangers personnel and seven police officials were injuries while preventing PTI workers from entering the capital at different points including Faizabad and Sohan.

The protesters managed to enter the Red Zone after removing blockades, the officials said, adding that as a result, Red Zone, which houses important and sensitive installations, was completely sealed.

The lone entry and exit point on Margalla Road was also closed with containers late in the evening, the officials said, adding that those residing inside the zone, including Diplomatic Enclave, would not be able to leave their area.

Contingent of Rangers personnel have been deployed in the Red Zone for inner security, including that of Diplomatic Enclave whereas the police that were deployed there have been shifted to the site of PTI’s public gathering and sit-in area, the officers said.

Earlier, the capital administration was reluctant to allow the PTI to hold public gathering and sit-in between G-9 and H-9 on the recommendation of police who feared security issues, including terrorist threat.

In a written reply to PTI’s general secretary Shahzad Gill, the office of the district magistrate said the report from the senior superintendent of police (SSP) highlighted that the area between H-9 and G-9 was not secure for public gatherings as it was open and not covered by any boundary wall.

Earlier, Mr Gill had intimated the capital administration about the PTI’s plan to hold public gathering and sit-in on Srinagar Highway and asked for security. In response the district magistrate sought views and comments from SSP Operations and Special Branch along with the assistant commissioner Industrial Area.

In the letter to the PTI’s general secretary, the district magistrate said it was also important to note that for any gathering between G-9 and H-9, Srinagar Highway would become inaccessible to thousands of people who commuted on the road on a daily basis as it was an inter-provincial highway leading to New Islamabad International Airport.

“The maintenance of public order and imposition of reasonable restriction in the context of regulating exercising the right guaranteed under Article 16 of the Constitution is within the exclusive domain of the executive authorities i.e. the minister of interior, secretary ministry of interior, chief commissioner, inspector general of police and deputy commissioner Islamabad,” the letter stated, adding that keeping this in view, the application for provision of venue is hereby regretted and no objection certificate (NOC) for public gathering is turned down.

Officers of the capital administration raised concerns over the security of former prime minister Imran Khan and the public gathering.

The party leadership was informed that an alert was issued regarding plans of a terrorist attack on their gathering by an international outfit along with Hezb-i-Islami. As per the alert, the PTI leadership and participants of the march “will be targeted with an explosive-laden vehicle or suicide attack,” the administration officials said.

The capital administration and police have selected some spots for the PTI’s gathering including near Metro Cash and Carry, F-9 Park and Parade Ground near Faizabad.

Security personnel injured

Six Rangers personnel and seven police officials sustained injuries while preventing PTI workers from entering the capital at different points including Faizabad and Sohan.

The injured were shifted to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims).

After removing containers, 10,000 PTI workers in 1,500 vehicles reached Express Chowk. The contingent deployed there resorted to teargas shelling to disperse them and in retaliation, the workers hurled stones at them.

MNAs Raja Khurram Nawaz, Sadaqat Abbasi, Saifullah Niazi and Zartaj Gul were leading the PTI rally on Islamabad Expressway, officials said.

A separate group reached and assembled at different points of the capital including Bhara Kahu, G-13, Gulberg Greens, Faizabad, Zero Point, Blue Area and Kulsum Plaza, the officers said.

Till the filling of this report, a group led by MNA Ali Amin Gandapur reached the capital from Dera Ismail Khan after a massive confrontation with police at Hakla interchange where MNA Amjad Ali Khan Niazi was arrested.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2022

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