LAHORE: Amid security threats and fears of clashes between police and demonstrators, no law and order situation was reported in the city during the protest to demand justice for the Model Town carnage.
Police devised a comprehensive security plan which was carried out by at least 6,500 personnel under the supervision of 344 upper-subordinates, 96 SHOs, 24 DSPs and 11 SPs.
All officials deployed on the occasion were unarmed. CCPO Amin Wains had ordered them to be polite with the public to avoid any confrontation. The officials started their duties in the morning hours before the start of the protest.
According to the plan, three-layered security arrangements were made. Any participant entering the procession was checked at three points; physical frisking, checking with metal detectors and passing walkthrough gates. The venue was also kept under check through CCTV cameras of the Punjab Safe Cities Authority (PSCA).
All the roads and streets leading towards the site were closed off through barbed wire, tents and barricades. Participants were allowed entry at five points. One point was specified for entry of political leaders and the other for women. The participants had to walk at least 500 metres and cross three check posts to reach the procession at these points.
A huge number of policemen were deployed in civvies to keep an eye on any suspicious person or activity. Teams of Police Response Unit and Dolphin Squad remained on patrol in nearby streets to keep an eye on a suspicious person or activity and respond immediately in case of an emergency.
The venue was first screened by sniffer dogs and the Bomb Disposal Sqaud in the morning. Snipers were deployed on all nearby rooftops.
Three companies of Pakistan Rangers were deployed to protect vulnerable establishments such as 90-Shahrah-e-Quaid-e- Azam, Governor House, Punjab Assembly and WAPDA House, all of which fell near the procession site.
The stringent security arrangements and blockade of roads caused a lot of nuisance for the public and resulted in traffic chaos. The residents of areas near Mall Road were left stranded as their movement was restricted.
Arguments between public and the police were also reported. Similarly, commuters faced huge trouble on Mall Road near Alharma Hall as well as Hall Road and Queens Road near Ganga Ram, Temple Road near FIA Building as the routes were closed. The traffic diverted to other roads and people faced great difficulty reaching their destinations.
City Traffic Police Lahore (CTPL) said that they deployed 513 wardens, 24 women wardens and two special squads under the supervision of 20 inspectors, five DSPs and two SPs. Three points, Nasir Bagh, Aiwan-e-Tijarat Road and Bagh-e-Jinnah Lawrence Road, were specified for parking.
Traffic coming upper Mall to Punjab Assembly was diverted to China Chowk near Governor House, vehicles entering Mall Road from Post Master General Chowk were diverted to Anarkali Chowk. Meanwhile, traffic from Bota Mill Chowk was diverted to Lakshami Chowk via Athartan Chowk and motorists coming from Shimla Pahari were guided towards Copper Road and Sheesha Market Beedon Road via Flaties Hotel and Duty Free Shop Road.
Alternate routes by CTPL were specified as China Chowk to Y-Crossing, Ganga Ram Chowk to Safan Wala Chowk, Mozang Ada, AG Office and Jain Mandar Road and Lower Mall to Katchery Chowk, GC University, Anarkali, Neela Gumband and Neepar Chowk to Lakshmi Chowk.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2018.
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