The executive district officer (education) announced late Monday night that all government and private schools in Punjab will remain closed from January 26 (today) till Jan 31 due to “severe cold”.
The decision was announced close to midnight on Monday giving rise to speculation that the government was using the cold as a pretext to shut down the schools in the wake of protests launched by Sunni Tehreek in Lahore against the death penalty awarded to Mumtaz Qadri.
Education department sources said that the government was attempting to borrow time in an effort to thwart a standoff with the protesters which would surely have happened if the protesters remained on Mall road and kept it closed to the general traffic, especially at peak traffic hours.
On Monday, Qadri’s supporters gathered on Mall road in front of the Punjab Assembly building and shut down traffic causing a massive gridlock in the area. Police kept their distance while keeping a watchful eye, but with Qadri’s supporters vowing to continue their sit-in till his release, the likelihood of them clashing with the police at some point was high.