Sunni rally
The workers of Sunni Tehreek (ST) arriving on board Khyber Mail were arrested at Rawalpindi Railways station. - File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Over a hundred local leaders and activists of Sunni Ittehad Council were arrested on Saturday. Police stopped the rally near ‘Soha Rawalpindi, where the activists had held a sit-in protest and were determined to move forward.

Police in twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi jump-started into action since Saturday morning in a bid to stem Council’s Long March from Islamabad to Lahore. Hazrart Bari Imam Shrine was sealed.

The workers of Sunni Tehreek (ST) arriving on board Khyber Mail were arrested at Rawalpindi Railways station.

According to Cantt Police Station, at least 50 people were taken into custody. Meanwhile, Sunni Council spokesman claimed over 200 of their workers were nabbed.

In view of security apprehensions, the government was in top gear since yesterday to stanch Islamabad-Lahore Long March announced by Sunni Ittehad as the march to ‘Save Pakistan’.

Islamabad's exits and entry points especially those roads leading to Bari Imam Darbar were heavily guarded with baton-wielding police contingents armed with tear-gas shells and armored personnel carrier (APC).

Police were given duties outside madaris in support of Sunni Tehreek. Also, some local leaders were browbeaten into staying back.

Police took 19 Tehreek workers including a local leader during an operation in Jhelum.

According to Rawalpindi officials, over 100 people have been taken into custody. – Agencies

Chief of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) Sahibzada Fazal Karim on Saturday said the SIC will not allow the repeal of the blasphemy laws. He said terrorism had distorted Pakistan’s image across the globe, adding that those persuading people for suicide bombings were not loyal to Pakistan.

Hundreds of SIC activists started a nearly 200-mile long march on Saturday in a protest against Taliban attacks on the country's religious sites.

Authorities warned that militants could attack the procession which was being led by Sahibzada Fazal Karim.

Police escorted the convoy out of Islamabad, where the journey had started.

The participants, travelling on foot and in cars, plan to rally in Lahore, where 47 people died in a suicide bombing at a Sufi shrine in July.

While addressing the participants of the long march at Islamabad’s Bari Imam shrine, Karim said the government had not accepted the SIC’s demand for legislation to curb terrorism and called for an All Parties Conference on the issue.

He further demanded the release of the arrested SIC activists.

The local administration had imposed Section 144 in Rawalpindi and several activists from various religious seminaries had been arrested.

Following intelligence reports of possible terror attacks, the Punjab government had banned the long march to avert any untoward incident.