Protesting farmers march on Islamabad, again

Published September 29, 2022
Protesters assemble on Faisal Avenue as a police van blocks the road while traffic is being diverted towards G-8 in Islamabad due to the protest by farmers on Wednesday. — Photos by Mohammad Asim
Protesters assemble on Faisal Avenue as a police van blocks the road while traffic is being diverted towards G-8 in Islamabad due to the protest by farmers on Wednesday. — Photos by Mohammad Asim

ISLAMABAD: Over 25,000 farmers from Punjab under the umbrella of Kisan Ittehadreached the capital again to stage a protest for the fulfillment of their demands.

Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) was imposed in the capital, however, since Sept 21, farmers have reached Islamabad twice whereas teachers from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also entered the capital three days ago and staged a protest in Banigala. Some entry points of the Red Zone were opened when protesters reached the border of the capital, but hours later, these routes were closed.

Officials of the capital administration said farmers came from across the Punjab and demanded restoration of the previous tubewell electricity tariff of Rs5.3 per unit and abolishing of all taxes and adjustments. Besides, they said, an end must be put to the black marketing of fertilisers and reduction of urea rate which increased to 400pc, they added.

The rate of wheat should be fixed at Rs2,400 per mound and the rate of sugar cane at Rs280 per mound, the officers said, quoting the protesters’ demands.

Containers placed at D-Chowk, Faisal Avenue closed to public from G-8 to F-8

Besides, the farmers also demanded that the blockade of canals should be removed and water released immediately in the area. Moreover, they said, agriculture should also be given the status of industry.

Earlier, the capital police sealed T-Cross Rawat by putting containers on roads after getting information of the rally, police officers said, adding that besides this, interchanges and roads adjacent to Islamabad Expressway were also sealed with containers.

In the morning, the capital police opened the entry point of Red Zone including D-Chowk and negotiations were held with farmers at T-Cross. Later over 2,500 farmers travelling on 40 buses, 29 coasters, six wagons, 11 Sports Utility Vehicles and 18 cars reached Jinnah Avenue.

The police immediately sealed all entry points of the Red Zone except Margalla Road. Restricted and regulated entry was given to people on Margalla Road.

After reaching Jinnah Avenue underpass/interchange, protesters staged a sit-in there till the filing of the report, as a result of which Faisal Avenue was closed to public from G-8 to F-8.

According to the officers, the protesters were present on Faisal Avenue from Khayaban Chowk to the G-8 turn.

There was complete silence from protesters after they reached Khayaban Chowk, the officers said, adding that efforts were being made by senior officers of the capital administration and police to negotiate with them but their leaders categorically refused to cooperate.

Besides, they also did not make any demand for negotiations with a particular official or minister, they said, adding that it is the domain of ministries or politicians to negotiate with protesters over the nature of their demands.

On the other hand, teachers from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are still protesting in Banigala and Tuesday night, they tried to reach former prime minister Imran Khan’s house, the officers said, adding that police had been deployed inside the house of Mr Khan.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2022

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