PESHAWAR: The Peshawar district administration on Thursday banned protests on Khyber Road to save people from inconvenience owing to blockades of the road.

Khyber Road, one of the key traffic arteries of provincial capital, connects GT Road with the University Road and often remains a scene of protests near the provincial assembly building, causing traffic congestion in the city.

An order issued by the office of deputy commissioner said that Khyber Road was often blocked by protesters that created traffic jams on the route road and bottleneck was then shifted to the whole city, resultantly blocking of all main roads. “This creates nuisance and inconvenience to people,” it said.

The order said that the road blockades could also lead to loss of lives as ambulances carrying patients from other cities also got stuck in the gridlock caused due to the protests.

The order will remain intact for 30 days

It said that petitions against the closure of the road were being heard by Peshawar High Court while aggrieved citizens also approached the Pakistan Citizen Portal.

The orders stated the under Section 144 of Pakistan Penal Code, the deputy commissioner was banning the protests and blockade of Khyber Road in larger public interest. The ban will remain in effect for 30 days.

Senior journalist Mohammad Jamshed Baghwan has also moved Peshawar High Court seek directives for the respondents including the provincial government, to allot a suitable place or ground for holding of rallies by political parties, associations, unions and other groups without disrupting the people’s right to free movement.

The petitioner requested the court to restrain the district administration from granting no objection certificate (NOC) to any political party, association and organisation to block roads or hold rallies that result in the disruption of free public movement.

He has also sought the court’s orders to declare that holding of any rally or protest on roads in front of the provincial assembly building is illegal and representatives of the protesters should be allowed to submit their protest note or charter of demands to the government representatives without disrupting the flow of traffic.

The petitioner also requested the court to direct the police to use ‘reasonable restraint’ against protesters when necessary to ensure free flow of traffic.

During a hearing into that petition, a bench headed by Justice Roohul Amin Khan observed that closure of roads due to protests was a serious issue so the government should take steps for its effective resolution.

The bench observed that a handful of people frequently blocked Khyber Road and hampered traffic in the entire city.

Earlier in April this year, the district administration had designated the historical Jinnah Park for protests to prevent traffic jams on busy roads.

However, protests are still taking place on the road despite the district government’s efforts and sometimes back the city police used baton and tear gas to disperse a protest by the teachers.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2022

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