–TLP holds protests against Aasiya Bibi’s acquittal across province in violation of Section-144
–Commuters suffer amid traffic gridlocks on major roads of city
LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government on Wednesday failed to implement its writ as workers of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) took to roads, protesting against the Supreme Court’s (SC) decision of acquitting Aasiya Bibi, a Christian woman condemned to death on blasphemy charges after accepting her 2015 appeal against her sentence.
The protests that were held simultaneously at different spots in the provincial capital on TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi’s call, paralysed routine life in a grave violation of section 144 that the provincial government had imposed earlier in the day.
Last month, the firebrand cleric had warned the government and state institutions of “dire consequence” if Aasiya was released.
On Wednesday, several points on the Lahore-Islamabad Motorway, including the Babu Sabu, Faizpur, Sheikhupura and Kala Shah Kaku interchanges were blocked by protesters demonstrating against the apex court’s verdict.
Tyres were set ablaze by the TLP workers, who blocked roads, spelling misery for the citizens.
Okara, Renala Khurd, Pattoki, Manga Mandi and Paka Meel along National Highway had also been blocked.
According to the Punjab Safe Cities Authority, routes from the Punjab Society to Ferozepur Road, EME to Shahkam Chowk, Lahore Bridge Railway Crossing (Qainchi), Charing Cross Mall Road, China Chowk, Chowk Multan Road, Kamahan Road, and Chandrai Road were also blocked as protesters continued to gather in large numbers.
Moreover, Data Darbar, Faisal Chowk, Chungi Amar Sadhu (both sides), Azadi flyover towards Tanga track, Shahdara Morr, Ghazi Chowk Ferozepur Road, Daroghawala, Kacha Ravi Road, Boota Mehal Chowk, Avari Chowk, Khayaban-e-Jinnah Chowk, Bhatta Chowk, Model Town Link Road, Packages Mall towards Qainchi, and Muhafiz Town (both sides) were reported to be blocked.
Zia, a biker stuck in traffic in the Iqbal Town area of Lahore, told Pakistan Today that he was unaware of the protest rally and could only cover a single kilometer within half an hour. “This is terrible. No one is concerned about what a common man has to face amid such a mess,” added the exasperated citizen.
Owing to the situation, commuters were seen detouring to reach their destination, causing major gridlocks on adjacent thoroughfares as well.
Several ambulances were seen struggling to find a way out of traffic too.
While other rallies concluded by the evening, a sit-in on The Mall at Faisal Chowk continued till the filing of this report.