LAHORE: Some of the worst traffic jams have been witnessed in the city on Saturday due to violent protests by religious outfits in different parts of the metropolis after a police operation was launched against Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLY) protestors in the federal capital.
Members of TLY led by Maulana Asif Ashraf Jalai started assembling at Data Darbar early Saturday morning following reports of Faizabad operation and disrupted the flow of traffic in the area.
The angry protestors later assembled at Charing Cross where they clashed with police. The protest rally caused a massive gridlock after police tried to stop the protesters by barricading different city roads.
Police arrested around 50 TLY workers after the protestors turned violent. Traffic at Mall Road came to a standstill as stick-wielding protestors refused to allow any citizen to pass through. The workers also placed illegal barricades on the roads as police stood on the sidelines as silent spectators. Traffic police officials and Anti-Riot Force personnel were also seen standing at a distance from the protesters. The followers of various groups belonging to the Barelvi school of thought seem to have bulldozed the writ of the provincial government as they took charge of the entire city.
According to City Traffic Police spokesperson Muhammad Arif, the angry protestors held protest rallies at 16 points in the city and blocked Mall Road, Shahdara roundabout, Thokar Niaz Baig, Bhatta Chowk, Imamia Colony, Allah Ho Chowk, Chungi Ammar Sidhu, Ferozpur Road, Lahore Press Club, Data Darbar, Daroghawala, Shah Alam Chowk, Kahna, Faisal Chowk, Mughal Pura, Garhi Shahu and other areas. He said that the traffic police tried all day to ease the flow of traffic by diverting it to alternate routes.
Large contingents of police were also deployed in all sensitive areas, but traffic in different parts of the city remained blocked as stick-wielding protesters crowded various city areas. Long queues of vehicles were witnessed on Mall Road, Canal Road, Jail Road, Ferozepur Road and even at toll plazas. Thousands of commuters were left stranded due to blockage of roads by the TLY workers.
A visit to Charing Cross, Data Darbar, and Garhi Shahu revealed that the participants were undisciplined and lacked coordination since they belonged to different factions of Barelvi school of thought.
Addressing the workers, Dr Asharf Asif Jalali said that all participants attending the protest rallies were guided by their love and affection for the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), adding that they would not spare the government which tried to change the Khatam-e-Nabuwwat laws and then went further to initiate a crackdown against innocent workers in the capital. After motivating the protestors, Jalali returned to Data Darbar to avoid confrontation with the police.
Meanwhile, two resolutions were submitted in the Punjab Assembly; one in favour of the Faizabad sit-in and the other against the protest of the religious parties. The resolution submitted by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Nabila Hakim condemned the operation against the religious groups and urged the government to hold dialogue with the protestors. On the other hand, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz member of provincial assembly Hina Pervez Butt condemned ‘Maulvismin’ in her resolution and assured the law enforcement agencies of her party’s full cooperation in reining in the protestors.