ISLAMABAD/RAWALPINDI: Scores of PTI activists were arrested after protesters turned violent as they pelted the capital police and personnel of other law enforcement agencies with stones at Faizabad Bridge on Friday.
Earlier, the PTI secretary general Asad Umar had announced protests after Friday prayers against gun attack on former prime minister Imran Khan in Wazirabad.
The PTI had called protests at different localities of the capital, including Faizabad, Sangjani Peshawar Road, Toll Plaza Bhara Kahu, Rawat, G.T. Road, and the National Press Club at 3:00pm. Shortly after the announcement of protests, more police and paramilitary personnel were deployed at Faizabad. Besides, armed personnel carriers and prison vans were also brought to the Faizabad, they added.
Police also fired teargas shells on protesters to disperse them. Reportedly, many protesters were arrested by the police and shifted to police stations.
Law enforcement personnel resort to teargas shelling to disperse stone-pelting protesters
Interestingly, the protesters reached Faizabad Bridge while marching on Murree Road with no resistance from the Rawalpindi police, leaving vehicular traffic stranded on Islamabad Expressway, I.J.P Road, 9th Avenue, Murree Road and other linking roads causing immense trouble for commuters.
The district government has also suspended the Metro Bus Service between Saddar and Faizabad.
On Thursday night, police had arrested three protesters from the bridge on charges of violating law and order and confronting police.
According to details, the PTI’s city chapter leaders along with scores of supporters holding party flags, portraits of Imran Khan gathered at Shamsabad from where they marched towards Faizabad Bridge where a protest demonstration was staged against the armed attack on Imran Khan.
The most echoed slogan, chanted by the charged protestors of PTI, was simple, “Announce a date for fresh elections”.
PTI President North Punjab Amir Kiani, MNA Sheikh Rashid Shafique, Ali Nawaz Awan, Raja Rashid Hafeez, Raja Majid, Arif Abbasi, Mian Imran Hayyat and Zaheer Awan led the rally. Deputy Speaker Punjab Assembly Wasiq Qayyum Abbasi along with his supporters Abbas Akbar, Sheikh Irfan and others also brought a rally from Adiala Road to Shamasabad.
Officials of Islamabad police warned the protesters not to violate section 144 imposed by the district government. But the mob pelted police and Frontier Constabulary officials with stones.
“The protesters were equipped with stones and sticks and launched an attack on police deputed at Faizabad Bridge,” said a police officer while talking to media men. He said that police also arrested many protesters and shifted them to various police stations for legal action.
“Police on Thursday night had rounded up a man namely Faizan Sarwar and two other women identified as Roma Anwar and Shumaila Haider from Faizabad Bridge on charges of violating section 144, scuffling with police and chanting anti-government slogans.
Separate FIRs have also been registered against them,” he said. He said that it was noticed that Rawalpindi police and the district government had not made efforts to stop violent mobs from marching towards the federal capital.
The protesters also set tyres, waste and a motorcycle on fire to reduce the impact of teargas, they said, adding that the confrontation between the police and the protesters continued for over two hours.
Due to the law and order situation the motorists were stuck in long queues at the adjacent road, due to mismanagement and failure to create alternative routes on time.
After hour-long efforts, the police succeeded in dispersing the protesters, they said, adding the police picked up dozens of protesters and shifted them to different police installations.
A police spokesman when contacted said that police arrested scores of protesters, however the actual number of those arrested is yet to be known.
The pelted the police with stones, and use sling shots from Rawalpindi, he said, adding that cases are being registered against them.
Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2022