The authorities have estimated loss to public infrastructure at nearly Rs150 million due to destruction at the hands of participants of a pro-Mumtaz Qadri sit-in that continues at D-Chowk.
Almost 100,558 inter-city commuters, according to a Punjab Metrobus Authority (PMA) estimate, were affected as the service remained suspended throughout the day.
On Sunday night, when police tried to stop the protesters from advancing towards D-Chowk they turned violent.
Major arteries of Islamabad, Rawalpindi blocked as pro-Qadri protesters storm Red Zone
Parade Ground Station of the Metro Bus Service located on Jinnah Avenue was completely ransacked by the protesters, while heavy power generators and other installments were also set on fire.
The protesters also burnt three motorcycles parked near the station as well as few shipping containers the police had placed to stop them.
The PMA estimates loss of nearly Rs120 million due to complete destruction of the said station.
It says it also lost revenue of over Rs2 million approximately due to suspension of the service.
“This property was built using the taxpayers’ money and no one should go scot-free for destroying it,” said a young employee of a private office located near the Parade Ground station.
Several others also expressed anger over destruction of public property, in the name of religion.
Meanwhile, attendance at government and private offices located in and around the Red Zone remained considerably thin on the first working day of the week.
Mobile phone service in red zone and adjoining areas was suspended by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Monday morning, which was not restored till the time this report was sent to the press.
Capital residents suffered due to suspension of mobile phone services.
Universities and other educational institutes remained opened but students faced difficulties due to shortage of public transport.
Officials of the city administration, while requesting anonymity said that the law enforcement agencies were busy chalking out plans to evacuate the protesters from D-Chowk, adjacent to the Constitution Avenue.
Protest inside red zone turns into a sit-in
The Constitution Avenue has seen a number of protests especially in the last some years.
From the protests during the lawyers’ movement in 2007 to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s sit-ins, the Constitution Avenue has seen some of the most vocal demonstrations.
Till the filing of this report, government and protesters were nowhere near reaching an amicable solution to the standoff.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 29th, 2016.
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