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All set for marathon

January 29, 2006

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LAHORE, Jan 28: With the city wearing a festive look ahead of Sunday’s marathon, authorities have taken unprecedented steps to shield nearly 15,000 participants, including 47 professional athletes, from abroad, from ‘trouble-makers’.

The police, which arrested nearly 400 MMA activists from Lahore and elsewhere in the Punjab for holding anti-marathon rallies on Friday, continued its crackdown on Saturday.

Sources said that 10 people were arrested from Lahore on Saturday, but the MMA said the figure was much higher. Elsewhere in the province, 50 MMA leaders and workers were arrested from Qila Deedar Singh and Gujranwala, 11 from Toba Tek Singh, 14 from Sialkot and six each from Kasur and Okara.

The MMA activists held demonstrations against the race on Defence Chowk and Multan Road and set four buses on fire. Most of them, however, managed to flee before the police arrived.

City police chief DIG Khawaja Khalid Farooq said that more than 12,000 policemen had been deployed along the marathon route and close circuit cameras had been installed.

Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi also made it clear that the participants of the marathon would be given full protection and nobody would dare to disrupt it.

SHIFTED TO JAILS: MMA workers, arrested in Punjab for holding anti-marathon protests, were shifted to far-off jails on Saturday, it is learnt.

Sources said 150 of those arrested were transported to Dera Ghazi Khan and an equal number to Mianwali central jail.

A majority of the students picked up from the Islamia College’s Civil Lines hostel on Friday were short of warm clothing, some even bare-footed.