Tuesday August 16, 2022

Azadi March: Skirmishes erupt between police, PTI workers in Lahore

May 26, 2022

LAHORE: Large-scale skirmishes between the Punjab police and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers erupted in the provincial metropolis on Wednesday when the law-enforcers blocked their routes for their participation in the ‘Azadi March’, announced by party chairman Imran Khan.

Dozens of PTI workers and leaders were arrested including former Punjab health minister Dr Yasmin Rashid, Andaleeb Abbas, Zubair Niazi, Mian Mamunur-Rasheed, Ejaz Chaudhry, Jamshed Iqbal Cheema, and former vice chairman Chief Minister's Complaint Cell Nasir Salman. However, most of the leaders were released soon after their arrest.

The party workers responded to the call given byImran Khan, who had been demanding immediate dissolution of assemblies and announcement of date for general election. The government's plan that not a single vehicle should get out of Lahore,however, failed.

Police tear-gassed and lathi-charged the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf marchers at Batti Chowk and Bhatti Gate area whenthey attempted to remove containers, placed on roads. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaflawyers and workers had scuffles with the police outside Aiwan-e-Adl and Post Master General Office. Police subjected lawyers to torture outside the Aiwan-e-Adl. A Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader, Zubair Niazi,was injured during a scuffle with the police. He was also arrested, but lawyers managed to rescue him from police. Lawyers also removed barriers from in front of Aiwan-e-Adl.

The lawyercaravan clashed with the police, broke barriers and left for Islamabad. Police damaged busses, hired by lawyers for the marchers. The marchers were also intercepted at Shahdara. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf workers removed all containers at Batti Chowk, Ravi Bridge, Niazi Chowk and Shahdara and cleared the roads to move towards Islamabad.

Meanwhile, another Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf caravan, led by Hammad Azhar, managed to overcome obstacles and leave Lahore for Islamabad. However, he received a minor injury. The police stopped the PTI workers about 100 metres before the Ravi Bridge.

Police refused to allow Dr Yasmin Rashid to move towards Batti Chowk. When she tried to move ahead, the policemen hit her vehicle with a heavy stick,damaging badly the windscreen. Shahdara and Farrukhabad areas were turned into battlefield where the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf workers offered resistance and managed to cross the city by removing the obstacles.

The marchers threw tear-gas shells back at police and threw stones and bricks. Police resorted to baton-charge and fired tear-gas shells from Ravi Toll Plaza to Shahdara Chowk, which forced the PTI workers to disperse for some time.

A heavy contingent of police was deployed on Ravi Bridge. Five reserve forces were deployed at Adda Plot Raiwind Road. Containers were placed at Manga Mandi, Sundar, Mohalnawal. A man was seriously injured when he fell from a PTI container near Imamia Colony.

The injured worker was identified as Elyas, a resident of Kahna. Edhi volunteers rushed the injured to a local hospital for medical treatment. Two Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf workers were injured during a scuffle between police and the workers on Ravi Bridge. A Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf worker got injuries when he fell into River Ravi from Ravi Bridge. The injured, yet to be identified, was admitted to a local hospital where his condition was said to be precarious.

Four bikes were burnt at Shahdara Chowk. Several police vehicles were also damaged by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf workers in different areas of the city. SP Model Town's official vehicle was also damaged by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf workers. Mobile services remained suspended in various parts of the city. Citizens and passersby had to face problems after they were trapped in the shelling.