LAHORE: The Punjab government has imposed Section 144 on The Mall, Gulberg Main Boulevard as well as outside the Punjab Civil Secretariat and its adjoining roads to prohibit all kinds of assemblies, sit-ins and processions a couple of days ahead of the PTI ‘s court arrest movement from tomorrow.

The ban, imposed on the deputy commissioner’s request, will remain enforced for seven days.

The home department’s notification issued by Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Shakeel Ahmad may benefit the PTI in its Jail Bharo Tehreek since it provides legal ground for arrest.

PTI’s focal person for the movement Senator Ejaz Chaudhry had announced that the party leaders, workers and volunteers would assemble on The Mall and court arrest for “violating Section 144 imposed on The Mall”.

The PTI had already registered party leaders, workers and volunteers to court arrest and the first batch of six former MNAs and MPAs as well as some 200 workers would court arrest on Feb 22.

In the first phase, PTI Lahore president Sheikh Imtiaz says former Punjab Governor Umer Sarfraz Cheema, Senator Waleed Iqbal, former provincial minister Murad Raas, Muhammad Khan Madni and Fawad Rasool Madni along with 200 workers would court arrest. Other party workers have also been told to reach The Mall to witness the launch of the movement.

The PTI has also announced schedule of extending the court arrest movement from Lahore to seven other cities -- one new city every day until March 1. The movement will be launched in Peshawar on Feb 23, Rawalpindi (Feb 24), Multan (Feb 25), Gujranwala (Feb 26), Sargodha (Feb 27), Sahiwal (Feb 28) and Faisalabad (March 1).

The Section 144 notification says the ban on assemblies, gatherings, sit-ins, rallies, processions, demonstrations, jalsas, dharnas, protests has been imposed in the area from Mian Mir bridge to Istanbul Chowk on The Mall (Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam) including its vicinity; outside Punjab civil secretariat and its adjoining roads; and Main Boulevard, Gulberg.

According to the notification, a number of rallies and protests are held held on The Mall and Main Boulevard which pose a serious security threat to public, disrupt traffic and cause inconvenience to citizens. “Charing Cross being the favourite point for rallies/ protests, has a history of terror activity in which a number of police officials and civilians laid down their lives.

The DC’s request also explains that the PSL-VIII is also going to start from Feb 26 in Lahore and a large number of spectators are likely to visit the Qaddafi Stadium, via Main Boulevard.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2023

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