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Cop injured as protesters, police clash on Indus Highway

By Bureau report
November 14, 2020

PESHAWAR: Clashes between protesters and police on Indus Highway here on Friday left a police constable injured and the road remained blocked for all kinds of traffic for five hours, causing problems to commuters.

The protesters finally opened the road after getting assurance from Member Provincial Assembly Salahuddin Khan and officials from the administration that all their demands would be met. The protesters hailing from Tilaband village on the suburbs of Peshawar blocked the Indus Highway at Zangali Checkpost by burning tyres and putting logs and blocks on the road. They reached the main road in a vehicular procession. Holding banners and placards, they were chanting slogans against the government.

Governor Shah Farman was the target of their slogans. They protesters said that the government had forcibly usurped their land – Sarband Maira – for establishment of a residential project in the name of Peshawar Residentia. The owners of the land have not been compensated, they alleged. “The police raided our houses and arrested hundreds of villagers when we resisted the government’s move to occupy the land,” said Mohammad Javed, a protestor. Some of the detainees were released but nearly 200 were still in custody and they have been shifted to jails in other districts. After an hour of the road blockade, a police party present in the check-post right at the venue of the protest made an effort to disperse them and open the road. They fired some shots in the air and pelted tear gas shells on the protesters, but instead of dispersing the protesters got infuriated and started pelting stones at the checkpoint and broke some police vehicles parked outside the post. A police constable also sustained injuries when the protestors attacked him.

When the situation deteriorated, some officials from the administration and the local MPA Salahuddin Khan of Awami National Party (ANP) rushed to the spot and started dialogue with the protesters. They kept the dialogue delayed until Friday prayers thinking that by prayer time the road would be opened, but the protesters kept sitting on the road and did not go for the prayer. The dialogue continued for nearly three hours and at 3pm, the protesters were persuaded to end the protest and open the road. They were assured that all the detained villagers would be released by Friday evening and the matter pertaining to their land would be taken up in the provincial assembly and with the government. The five-hour blockade caused problems to commuters as several kilometers long queues of vehicles were seen standing on both sides of the road. The Indus Highway is one of the busiest routes that connects the provincial capital with the southern districts and other parts of the country. The travellers using this road have been the most unfortunate as it remains blocked for hours on every second day. The road particularly at the hometown of Governor Shah Farman Khan is in a dilapidated condition that leads to frequent accidents on a daily basis. The people living near the road face hours long loadshedding. Fed up with the power outages, they come to the Indus Highway and block it for hours and the commuters become the ultimate sufferers.

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