LAHORE- Seven people including two women were killed while 80 others sustained injuries in a clash between the supporters of Dr Tahirul Qadri and police in Lahore.
The fight started last night when members of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) tried to stop police from removing barriers outside their leader’s house in Model Town Colony and party secretariat. Police baton-charged and shelled the demonstrators for not letting them do their job. Five of the protesters were also arrested for creating trouble.
The injured were shifted to a hospital for medical assistance. According to hospital sources, the injured also include 17 police personnel. Police managed to remove all the barriers despite intense opposition, while anti-encroachment officials are busy clearing the area and removing the rubble. Police personnel are present in the locality to monitor the work and ensure protesters are kept under control.
As per previous court orders, blocking streets for security reasons is not allowed and police should remove such blockages. District Minister Rana Mashoud said the road blockages outside Qadri’s house were being removed on complaints filed by the residents of Model Town Colony.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, while speaking to journalists in Lahore, said that the barriers outside Qadri’s house and party secretariat were removed after government received information from intelligence agencies about the presence of armed men in the area.
He added that the private militia had made it a no go area and no one in Punjab is allowed to do so. While speaking inside the Punjab Assembly, where the opposition members protested against the use of force, Sanullah claimed the police action was inevitable as they were reports of militiamen taking oath for working on an unidentified operation.
The law minister further said the provincial government will carry out a judicial inquiry into the incident and those found guilty of unlawful actions will be punished. Informing the assembly about cases being filed against a few senior PAT leaders for their involvement in the clash with the police, Sanaullah claimed that police were fired at from inside the PAT secretariat.
Responding to the use of force against his party workers, Qadri said he protests police brutality against the peaceful demonstrators. He further accused the government of using this issue to divert attention from the ongoing operation in North Wazirisitan. While speaking to media, Qadri said the police action was unjustifiable as the barriers were placed on government’s order many years ago.
Accusing police of harassing PAT supporters prior to his visit to Pakistan, Qadri stressed he will arrive in the country as scheduled. The PAT leader also claimed the total number of casualties was higher than the official figure. Earlier PAT supporters staged protests in different parts of the country including Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad and other cities. Protesters blocked roads in the twin cities, affecting the flow of traffic. A human chain was formed in Gujranwala while party members also demonstrated in Sialkot, Hafizabad and Multan.