SHAHDARA: Different areas of the country on Saturday became mini battlefields due to clashes between police and protesters of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasol Allah (TLY), after the police started a crackdown against TLY workers in the federal capital. The protestors had been staging a sit-in in the federal capital for around three weeks by blocking the Faizabad Interchange.
Several places on the Grand Trunk (GT) Road, including Rawalpindi, Gujrat, Sara-i-Alamgir, Gujranwala, Imamia Colony and Shahdara witnessed clashes between police personnel and protesters who took to the roads and blocked the traffic on the call of their leadership present at Faizabad sit-in.
According to details, not a single vehicle coming from Gujranwala, Gujrat, Rawalpindi and other districts located close to GT Road could enter Lahore through the same road as traffic remained suspended near Imamia Colony. Workers of Pakistan Sunni Tehreek (ST) also staged a sit-in at the railway track of Imamia Colony, which connected other parts of the historic road with Lahore.
Asif Ali, a protester of ST told this scribe that the government mishandled the whole issue by launching a crackdown against TLY workers in Islamabad, which forced workers in other parts of the country to come out on the roads. “I think the best solution for the government was to defuse the crisis by taking the resignation of Law Minister Zaid Hamid,” he said.
Meanwhile, Shahdara roundabout was also closed for traffic after a clash between the police and TLY workers erupted in the afternoon, leaving many injured in the aftermath. Hundreds of commuters were stranded on the roads near Shahdara as it is the major roundabout which supports vehicular traffic into Lahore from Sheikupura, Faisalabad, Sharaqpur, Farooqabad, Jaranwala, Toba Tek Singh and Sargodha.
Scuffles between the commuters and the TLY workers were also a common sight as the latter were not allowing any vehicle to pass through the illegal ‘check posts’ manned by the religious party’s workers. The protestors also carried batons with which they attacked commuters and ordinary citizens.
Shafqat, an elderly man, told Pakistan Today that he had been walking on foot for over one hour but could not find any public transport because of the several sit-ins of TLY workers in the metropolitan. “I cannot understand where this country is going, as even I am unable to understand the reason behind these sit-ins,” Shafqat said, who was trying to get a transport in order to reach his home in Sheikhupura.
Another citizen Abid Ali, who is a lawyer, said that he was trying to pass through the Shahdara roundabout for over an hour, but these ‘goons’ were not allowing him to reach his destination. He said that the protestors did not even allow any motorcycle to cross the so-called ‘check post’ established by them.
“We observed a strike in the Lahore High Court for the great cause of Khatam-e-Nabuwat (finality of prophet hood), but I am shocked to observe the rude behavior of the TLY workers. They claim that they are the devotees of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), but a true devotee of that great personality cannot even think about creating problems for the citizens,” he lamented.
Hundreds of women, children, old people and patients were seen cursing the demonstrators and urged them to open the road, but to no avail.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day, the TLY workers also attacked the Shahdara police station by pelting stones at the building. The angry protestors also burned several vehicles parked outside the police station. As a result, police had to resort to the use of tear gas in a bid to disperse the mob by using several rounds of tear gas to rescue themselves from the tense situation.
The service of Metro Bus also remained suspended in an effort to keep the common people safe from the violent TLY workers. The fiery speakers and religious scholars belonging to TLY were seen inciting the sentiments of the crowd. A large part of the protestors was made up by students of different religious seminaries run by the Barelvi school of thought.
During the protests, the religious scholars also took promises from the students of seminaries to show their allegiance with their leader Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi who was leading the sit-in in Islamabad.