LAHORE: The Punjab police launched a massive crackdown on the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and PML-Quaid workers in different districts of the province.
To bar the protesters from reaching Islamabad, most of the bridges on rivers, including Chenab, Sutlej and Indus, connecting different cities have been blocked for traffic by placing containers.
The Chenab bridge near Muzaffargarh, Head Muhammadwala in Multan, Head Punjnad at Alipur, Ghazi Ghat near Taunsa and Bahawalpur-Multan bridge near Lodhran have been blocked by placing containers.
Police are raiding bus stands and impounding buses and vans in different cities, including Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh, Layyah, Bahawalpur, Multan, Sahiwal, Okara besides Lahore.
Several checkpoints have also been set up on all the main roads of the province where policemen are busy checking the buses and arresting the activists.
Police are also conducting raids on the houses of leaders of the three parties to stop them from reaching Islamabad.
Hundreds of political activists of the three parties have been taken into custody for violating Section 144 imposed by the Punjab government from Oct 30 to Nov 8 in the province.
In Multan, police arrested PTI leader and former MPA Shahid Mehmood Khan from his house, along with some union council chairmen and hundreds of political workers in a raid. Police also conducted a raid at the house of MNA Aamir Dogar but he was not present there.
The activists of opposition parties are also being arrested for unlawful assembly in violating Section 144.
Punjab Assembly opposition leader Mian Mehmood Rasheed told Dawn that police were conducting raids in all the cities of the province and arresting hundreds of opposition workers. “All the routes to Islamabad are blocked by placing containers and it was also affecting routine life of the citizens,” he said.
He said the PTI activists were being booked under 16MPO, which was unlawful and showed that the both Sharifs were acting like dictators.
He said the PTI would approach courts for release of arrested activists in the morning and continue protesting against the government’s dictatorial mindset.
Section 144: The opposition leader also announced challenging Section 144 in the Lahore High Court on Monday (today).
He was speaking at a news conference along with Dr Yasmin Rashid at Chairman’s Secretariat on Sunday.
He condemned the sad incident on motorway that led to the death of a lieutenant colonel and expressed solidarity with the bereaved family. He demanded that those, who placed shipping containers on the motorway, should be held accountable.
He said the Punjab government was blocking masses’ free movement in the province in sheer confusion.
Adviser to PTI chairman Dr Yasmin Rashid said the Nawaz government had become confused and arrests and police torture could not deter party workers from reaching Islamabad on Nov 2.
PML-Q: Police on Sunday raided the residence of PML-Q Senator Kamil Ali Agha’s at Datanagar but he was not there.
“Police raided my house today night but I was not present there,” Mr Agha said and criticised the Punjab government for its ‘unlawful act’.
PML-Q Punjab General Secretary Chaudhry Zaheeruddin criticised the government’s claim about impounding truck with sticks in Islamabad.
Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2016