Rawalpindi sealed as TLP workers head for Islamabad

Contingency plan in place to prevent violence . Containers installed in Raja Bazaar, adjoining areas . Markets, bazaars may face shortage of edibles in case stand off continues

RAWALPINDI: As the proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) rally heads for Islamabad, the local administration closed Murree Road on Wednesday by placing containers and barbed wires.

The local administration has prepared a contingency plan to avoid violence.

On Wednesday, the containers were placed on the main roads of Raja Bazaar and adjoining areas.

The areas that have been blocked are Mareer Hassan, Murree Road from Mareer towards Saddar Metro Station, Murree Road from Mareer Chowk towards Liaquat Bagh, Liaquat Bagh and College Road, Iqbal Road and Dhoke Khabba Road, Bhabhra Bazaar and Circular Road, Asghar Mall Road and Chah Sultan Road, Chandni Chowk, Rawal Road and Sixth Road (diversion on double road).

The twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi turned into a battlefield in April when TLP workers and supporters protesting against the sacrilegious remarks of the French president were stopped to enter Islamabad by local police and the violence shifted to Rawalpindi.

Markets and bazaars of the twin cities may face shortage of edibles in the coming days in case the standoff with TLP continues.

“The travel time from Committee Chowk to Benazir Bhutto Hospital is 15 minutes, but it took an hour to reach the hospital to bring my ailing wife on motorcycle from narrow streets,” said Raja Zameer, a resident of Dhoke Khabba.

Ahmed Malik, a resident of Arya Mohallah, said he had to come home via Airport Road from Islamabad instead of Murree Road. He said his office was located in Islamabad and he was unable to reach home on time due to closure of roads.

Reportedly, the police and district administration have also blocked G.T. Road from Jhelum Bridge by placing containers.

Police have been given slingshots and glass balls to control the protesters. Slingshots and glass balls would be in addition to batons, rubber bullets, tear gas shells and other anti-riot tools.

Rangers have been called to maintain law and order in Punjab for 60 days in the wake of violent clashes with the proscribed organisation.

Police have also intensified crackdown on the TLP’s activists in Rawalpindi division arresting more than 220 activists.

Police raided to arrest TLP North Zone Emir Hadayatullah Shah in the Airport police area, however, it remained unsuccessful as he managed to flee.

On Wednesday night, G.T. Road was blocked by the law enforcement agencies near Gujar Khan, however, one track was left open for the time being which will be closed to traffic when needed.

The City Traffic Police have made alternative traffic plan to facilitate citizens who had been facing immense problems due to closure of Murree Road.

Murree Road from Faizabad has been closed on both sides with containers and barricades. Citizens can enter Rawalpindi using the Expressway and I.J. Principal Road.

Gujar Khan

Security arrangements were beefed up by Jhelum police to push back TLP workers.

According to the sources in Jhelum police, four SSPs, eight DSPs, 16 inspectors, and 4,000 other policemen were called in Jhelum from different districts including Bhakkar, Khushab, Sargodha, Mianwali and Chakwal to counter the rally of TLP workers.

District authorities blocked the G. T. Road from Jhelum to Dina at four different points with containers and trucks to bar the movement of the rally towards the federal capital.

The administration sealed both sides of the Jhelum bridge by placing containers and trucks.

Moreover, the Kala Gujjran railway crossing near Jhelum was also blocked which led to the suspension of the railway service. — Additional reporting by Hamid Asghar

Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2021

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