LAHORE – Police have arrested several PTI workers who turned up on Mall Road to participate in a rally the party claims to have taken out in ‘favour of the judiciary’.
Police also baton-charged the people after the PTI workers thronged Canal Road and set up a temporary bridge. The road leading to Zaman Park from The Mall was blocked with containers.
The PTI had announced a pro-judiciary rally and gave a call to its workers to gather at chief Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence.
Hours earlier, the Punjab government imposed Section 144 in the city for seven days, citing security concerns and warned the PTI workers against taking to the street. A heavy police contingent and water cannons have been moved near Zaman Park.
The PTI released videos on its Twitter handle, showing that police are using water cannons and arresting workers on Canal Road.
The imposition of the Section 144 comes as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is set to hold a demonstration in the Punjab capital to show solidarity with the judiciary following the Supreme Court’s verdict regarding holding of elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Additional Chief Secretary Shakeel Ahmed has issued the order, stating: “It has been observed that number of rallies and protests are held therein on daily basis at different places of District Lahore, which not only pose serious security threats but also disrupt traffic and cause inconvenience to public at large. There is also a history of terrorist activities in the rallies/ protests. wherein, a number of police officials and civilians embarrassed shahadat [martyrdom]”.
“Hence, in the context of prevailing overall security situation in the wake of recent wave of terrorism & latest threat alerts, it has been necessary to impose section 144 of Cr.P.C, 1898 on holding of all kinds of Assemblies, Gatherings, Sits-in, Rallies. Processions, Demonstrations, Jalsas, Dharnas, Protests and such like other activities across the district Lahore to avert any untoward incident,” reads the order.
The additional chief secretary said the order shall come into force with immediate effect and remain in force for seven days.
Government wants “bloodshed” in the country: Hammad Azhar
PTI leader Hammad Azhar lambasted Punjab Interim Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi saying he was ending democracy by refusing any political activity in the city even though the elections were scheduled for April 30.
Talking to the media outside Zaman Park, he said the caretaker government’s only responsibility was to conduct elections but it was creating hindrances in the election campaign by banning any rallies and political activity.
He alleged that the incumbent government wanted bloodshed in the city, and he directed party workers to remain peaceful and refrain from any clashes.
Taking to Twitter, he shared a picture of three PTI activists who had allegedly been arrested.
Earlier, the Home Department asked the PTI leaders in Lahore to take extra precaution during the party’s rally in Lahore, saying such public gatherings are “not advisable” due to security threats.
The department has also sent a letter to PTI leader Dr Yasmin Rashid. “The leadership of PTI including Chairman PTI is also expected to address the general public/ participants at different places during a rally in Lahore today. It is also expected that a large number of people are likely to attend the said rally,” it said
The letter stated that the public gatherings are not advisable due to prevailing security situation of the country. “Furthermore, women march Is also going to be held In connection with International Women’s Day” which is likely to draw a large number of participants,” it said.
“Therefore , in view of aforementioned facts, It Is reiterated that the organizers of PTI rally should take extra precautions and cooperate with LEAs to thwart any untoward incident,” the letter said.