Simmering cauldron calms down as IGP orders barricades’ removal

LAHORE: Seething cauldron of clashing temperatures between police and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) seems to have slightly calmed down on Saturday as compared to the last two days after Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mushtaq Sukhera ordered removal of barricades. However, police continue to have security beefed up in Model Town and its surrounding areas to maintain the law and order.  
PAT workers will mark Youm-e-Shuhada (martyrs day) today (Sunday) to remember their a dozen people, including women, who lost their lives due to police firing in front of Minhajul Quran Secretariat in Model Town on June 17. 
Despite traffic obstacles and police checking, arrival of PAT workers at Minhajul Quran Secretariat continued on Saturday. They will participate in a prayer for PAT activists and martyrs of Zerb-e-Azb Operation today.
Though IGP Sukhera has ordered removal of all barriers, containers and barbed wire at entry and exits points of the city. However, it was observed that the police had not carried out the instructions immediately and much of the obstacles were still in place till the filing of this report.
PAT Chief Dr Tahirul Qadri has announced that Youm-e-Shuhada would be observed in every nook and cranny of the country today.
Residents of Model Town and Faisal Town continue to face serious problem due to closure of roads and streets leading to Minhajul Quran Secretariat and Tahirul Qadri’s residence for the last several days. The police started an overnight operation on Wednesday night to park heavy shipping containers and lay barbed wire on main roads near prominent places like Barkat Market, Faisal Town Roundabout, Model Town Link Road, Akbar Chowk and other areas. Tens of thousands of residents are stranded in their houses for the last three days because of a virtual siege laid to their localities while many others faced innumerable problems while reaching offices, hospitals, schools and universities. No official of the Punjab government or police was prepared to facilitate citizens because of a lack of coordination and organisation after sealing the posh locality.
Because of parking of a large number of shipping containers, patients and families, who intended to visit Jinnah Hospital and Saira Memorial Hospital, suffered the most while ambulances also faced huge difficulties in reaching health facilities.
The blockade has also hampered supply of food items in Model Town and adjourning areas as fresh vegetables, fruits, grocery and other edibles are no longer available. A number of shops and stores have been closed down.
The Punjab government placed containers in Model Town, its surrounding areas and entry points of the city after Dr Qadri’s followers started reaching Minjhajul Quran Secretariat to observe Youm-e-Shuhada. The situation worsened especially after clashes between PAT workers and police on Friday night.
Operations DIG Dr Haider Ashraf said that PAT workers had brutally tortured policemen. As a result of torture, he said, nine policemen were seriously injured and dozens others were wounded. He said that all of the injured policemen were shifted to Jinnah Hospital. He said that PAT workers also took hostage seven policemen for several hours and released them after torture. He added that the police had not forced any filling station owner to close down his facility. He maintained that sale of petrol was going on in the city.
Meanwhile, Rangers have been deployed outside the residence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Raiwind following deteriorating security situation in the city, particularly after clashes between PAT activists and the police.

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