The Rawalpindi police registered three cases against the leaders and activists of an outlawed party for holding the garrison city hostage for three consecutive days.
The cases have been registered under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act on the charges of murder, attempted murder, intimidation, damage to property, and resistance to police.
According to details, after the arrest of their leader in Lahore, a large number of supporters and workers came out on Liaquat Bagh, Murree Road, Committee Chowk, Taxila, Rawat, and Gujar Khan in Rawalpindi on Monday evening.
As a result of this, fierce clashes between the demonstrators and police were witnessed for two days. On Wednesday, the Punjab Rangers along with the police carried out an operation for more than six hours after which all protest sites, including Murree Road, were cleared.
Large-scale arrests were made during the operation while over a hundred police officers were also injured. Due to the protests, metro bus services remained suspended as well.
In a first information report (FIR) lodged at the Waris Khan police station on the complaint of Sub-Inspector Muhammad Saleem, 110 people were nominated, including the head of the party’s north Punjab division and local leaders.
The FIR also stated that a large number of unknown individuals who were protesting against the arrest of the party leader and for the deportation of the French ambassador also damaged government properties, metro stations, and other private properties.
Furthermore, a separate case was registered against more than 150 workers at City Police Station. Similarly, 150 activists, including Sher Bahadur, have been nominated in the cases registered in Gujar Khan police station while a case against the abduction of a policeman has also been registered.
Property damage assessed
The Rawalpindi administration formed four committees to assess the damage done by the protesters of the outlawed party. Sources told that district administration, Metro Bus Authority (MBA), Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA), and Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation (RMC) have formed separate committees to assess the loss.
These committees will assess the damage inflicted on public and private properties and inform the Punjab government about it.
An official of the Rawalpindi administration told The Express Tribune that violent protests from Liaquat Bagh Chowk to Waris Khan Stop caused damage to public and private properties, including motorcycles, cars, police pickets, and traffic signals.
The windows of dozens of buildings were shattered as the protesters pelted stones at them. The official said that demonstrators on the metro bus track destroyed ticketing boots at Liaquat Bagh, Waris Khan, and Committee Chowk bus stops.
The metro bus track has been damaged to an extent that the service, which was already shut down due to the coronavirus situation, cannot be resumed immediately. However, sources stated that the track would be repaired before the resumption of operations.
Plants not spared either
During the protests, many expensive plants on the centre median strip on Murree Road planted by the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) were severely damaged.
According to details, from Liaquat Bagh to Benazir Bhutto General Hospital, the median strip was beautified through the installation of expensive plants that are taken care of daily. However, protesters left several plants damaged while some were forcibly removed from their roots and thrown on the road.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2021.