LAHORE, Jan 4: The assassination of Governor Salman Taseer sparked peaceful demonstrations by PPP workers across the province, particularly in the provincial capital, on Tuesday.

Traders in major markets downed their shutters as soon as television channels broke the news and vehicles went off roads to avoid the wrath of protesters.

Party activists took to the streets in several districts and chanted slogans against the Punjab government and set ablaze old tyres.

The Punjab government announced a public holiday on Wednesday to mourn the assassination.

In Lahore, most roads and streets wore a deserted look as people preferred toremain indoors, fearing protests by PPP workers.

Dozens of party activists took out a procession on the Mall in front of the Governor House and chanted slogans against the Punjab government. Scattered protests were also witnessed in some other parts of the city.

Leading markets and business centres on the Mall, Hall Road and Davis Road remained closed while there was a partial shutdown in Anarkali, Shadman Market, Shah Alam Market, Liberty Market, Main Market and Gulberg.

Cinemas and theatre halls were also closed for the day.

City police were alerted to deal with any emergency situation by intensifying patrolson leading arteries of the city.

Police high-ups ordered strict security measures at the Cavalry Ground residence of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer by deputing 50 policemen there.

The Mall was the focus of protesters as angry PPP workers reached in groups, held demonstrations and set fire to old tyres.

Police blocked the Mall from two ends for traffic and some adjoining roads, leading to the Governor House besides intensifying patrols.

Protesters called for the arrest of Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, holding him responsible for stirring the blasphemy issue which led to the assassination of Salman Taseer.

Police barred a group of PPP workers from marching to the Chief Minister House.

Later police barricaded the CM House, Punjab Assembly building and CM Secretariat by deputing more contingents.

Fearing strong reaction from PPP workers, more policemen were called from Police Lines and deputed on the venue of the demonstration and some important public buildings and offices.

Civil Lines Division SP Umer Saeed told Dawn that 200 policemen had been deputed on The Mall, adding that no untoward incident took place as PPP workers registered their protest peacefully.

FAISALABAD: Traders of different markets, including Clock Tower Bazaar, pulled down shutters in panic immediately after the news of the assassination of the Punjab governor.

Shopkeepers of Kutchary Bazaar, Rail Bazaar, Kharkhana Bazaar, Montgomery Bazaar, Jhang Bazaar, Bhawana Bazaar, Aminpur Bazaar and Chiniot Bazaar and other adjoining areas closed their businesses after news of the assassination was aired by media.

A gridlock crippled roads as people rushed to homes to escape a dreaded outbreak of violence.

MULTAN: Dozens of PSF workers took out a procession from the main campus of the Bahauddin Zakariya University and blocked the Bosan Road for two hours. They termed the killing of Mr Taseer a conspiracy against democracy.

Shouting slogans in favour of Ms Benazir Bhutto and Salman Taseer, they said that anti-democratic forces had united to derail democracy.

The Bhahuddin Zakariya University announced postponement of all papers scheduled for Wednesday.

SIALKOT: Some violent protests rocked the city after scattered rallies of PPP workers were taken out. Hundreds of angry and armed activists of PPP and PSF forced shopkeepers of markets, bazaars and shopping centres of the city to close their businesses. They also held a demonstration at Allama Iqbal Chowk.

Some annoyed PPP activists beat up local shopkeepers and traders for not closing markets. PSF workers, armed with iron rods, also damaged some vehicles partially near Police Lines in Sialkot and resorted to firing in air in some other parts of the city.

Incidents of scuffles between police and PPP workers also took place when law-enforcement agencies tried to stop them from going violent.

They pelted police with stones and damaged glasses of several shops and markets.

Protesters blocked traffic for two hours by setting ablaze old tyres on Allama Iqbal Chowk.


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