MULTAN: Police arrested former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani’s sons Ali Kasim Gillani and Ali Haider Gillani and nine other Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) activists late Saturday night for “flouting” coronavirus restrictions and breaking into Qila Kohna Qasim Bagh Stadium, the venue for the November 30 public meeting of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).
I was arrested with 9 of my workers
— Kasim Gilani (@KasimGillani) November 28, 2020
The incident was followed by a storm of charged workers from other opposition parties, mainly Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Jamiat Ulema-ie-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F). However, gauging the public mood, the law enforcement agencies, that confiscated the crane used by the enthusiastic crowd to remove the containers, avoided offering strong resistance.
The PPP workers were led by Gillani’s sons.
پہلے علی موسیٰ گیلانی اور اب جلسہ کے چیف کوارڈینیٹر علی قاسم گیلانی۔
نااہل حکومت کی پیپلزپارٹی اور سیدیوسف رضا گیلانی کی زیرِ قیادت پی ڈی ایم جلسہ کو ناکام بنانے کی ناکام کوشش#JalsaTouHoga @KasimGillani @BBhuttoZardari @HamidMirPAK @NazirLeghari pic.twitter.com/VgOddx9bbo
— GilaniHouseMediaCell (@gillanihouse_MC) November 28, 2020
Reports suggest police also arrested 30 workers of the PDM parties. Eventually, police succeeded in evicting the opposition workers from the main route leading to the venue.
The authorities later released Ali Haider and shifted Ali Kasim to Gulgasht police station.
“The rally will be held in Qila Qasim Bagh. Today all the barriers of the police and administration have been broken down. After storming the gates, we have taken control of the stadium,” PPP leader Ali Musa said after the arrest.
The Multan meeting, which coincides with the PPP founding day anniversary, is the fifth PDM show and is expected to be addressed by Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari, party chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s sister, as well.
Earlier on November 24, the district administration had rejected two applications for holding PPP rallies led by former prime minister Gillani in connection with the PDM meeting. The party had sought permission to hold rallies from Chowk Nawan Shaher to Chowk Ghanta Ghar.
The office of the deputy commissioner, in its refusal, stated that the rallies could not be allowed because of a ban on large gatherings imposed by the government to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“Government of the Punjab, Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department vide Order No. SO(G)/P&SHD/4-1/2020 dated 19th November 2020 has imposed a complete ban on all types of large-scale gatherings and only outdoor gathering is allowed with [an] upper limit of 300 persons,” the notification said.
“This order has come into force with immediate effect and shall remain in force till Jan 31, 2021, unless otherwise amended. Moreover, educational institutions have been closed by the government due to Covid-19.”
Deputy Commissioner Abdul Aamer Khattak also stated that the Covid-19 cases are increasing at an alarming pace in the district and, in the case of large public gatherings, there was a likelihood of rapid spread of the disease, while the health facilities in the district are already over-occupied because of the pandemic.
Khattak also referred to a November 24 police report warning against large public gatherings that might increase the spread of the life-threatening virus, besides mentioning the ban imposed by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), Islamabad, on such gatherings.
“Keeping in view of the instructions of the government and after considering all aspects and to safeguard human lives due to potential spread of Covid-19 virus, [the] permission of such kind of activities may be regretted,” the letter concluded.