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SAHIWAL, Dec 11: Hundreds of people on Thursday kept blocked the Lahore-Multan section of GT Road for about two hours to vent their anger over the killing of a man by dacoits, resulting in suspension of the SHO concerned.

Reports said Muhammad Boota and his four friends were returning to their native village 92/6-R on two motorcycles in the wee hours of Wednesday when they were intercepted by eight dacoits near the village. After collecting mobile phones and cash from the motorcyclists, the dacoits asked them to also hand over the motorbikes, to which Boota resisted and a scuffle ensued. During the scuffle, one of the dacoits fired at Boota from a pointblank range, killing him on the spot. The outlaws then fled the scene while firing in the air.

Alarmed by the gunshots, the village residents came out of their houses and on knowing about the incident they started gathering on the road. Meanwhile, two passing-by police mobiles also reached the spot. On seeing the mobiles, the mob started raising slogans against police.

According to an eyewitness, Tariq Shahzad, around 1,000 people, including women, gathered at the crime scene.

The protesters then picked up the victim’s body and placed it in the middle of GT Road near Royal Hotel Chowk, blocking the traffic. They also burnt tyres and pieces of wood on the road.

Strangely, during the whole episode, no concerned (Farid Town) police official appeared on the scene and the traffic remained suspended for about two hours. At last, three police vans approached the spot, but, instead of pacifying the protesters the police started forcing them to call off the protest, infuriating the mob further.

Enraged by police attitude, the mob started pelting the vans with stones. Investigation SP Ahmed Nawaz Cheema also tried to clam down the protesters but they refused to disperse.

Later, Punjab Food Minister Malik Nadeem Kamran intervened and assured the protesters that the victim’s heirs would be provided justice. After the assurance the protesters cleared the road and handed over the body to police for autopsy.

Following the incident DPO Tariq Abbas immediately suspended SHO Asif Watto for showing negligence.

Police have registered an FIR under section 396/302 of the PPC.

CANALS’ CLOSURE: Multan irrigation Chief Engineer Abdul Hafeez has announced the schedule of annual closure of main canals for repair and maintenance.

According to the schedule, Lower Bari Doab and Balloki-Suleiamanki link canals will remain closed from Dec 29 to Jan 15, while Upper Pakpattan Canal from Dec 30 to Jan 16.

Likewise, Trimmu Canal and Trimmu-Sidhnai link canal will be closed from Jan 10 to Jan 27, Sidhnai and SMB link canal from Jan 11 to Jan 28, and Lower Pakpattan Canal will remain closed from Jan 12 to Jan 29, 2009.