Citywide curfew: Pindi under lock and key

FIR registered against 100 people; sick unable to reach hospitals.

With security agencies on high alert fear gripped residents as parts of the city remained out of bound for its own residents. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/EXPRESS


A day meant to mourn those lost in the past turned into a day to mourn those lost in the present.

The situation in the garrison city of Rawalpindi remained tense on Saturday after at least 24 people were arrested during a rally by hundreds of seminary students protesting against the city administration’s failure to control the violence on Friday situation.

While at least eight people have been confirmed dead, rumours exaggerating the death toll to several dozens added further fuel to the fire, with a few people out on the streets in the city alleging that the district administration was a silent spectator to what is generally being called a bloodbath.

The students of Jamia Islamia at Kamran Market Saddar took out a rally to protest against the attack on a seminary, but when it reached Saddar Road, where the police and army had placed a temporary blockade, warning shot were fired to stop them from moving forward.

100 nominated in FIR

Meanwhile, The Ganjmandi police registered an FIR against 100 unknown persons and set up special teams to identify and arrest them.

Hospitals situation

According to a senior doctor at District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ), eight bodies and 44 injured were brought to the hospital --- half of whom were children.

He further informed that six bodies had been handed over to their relatives while two were still present at the hospital’s morgue. Of the injured, only five remain hospitalised while the rest have been discharged.

“All the routes leading to DHQ have been blocked since Friday evening. Even the relatives of the deceased faced immense difficulties while collecting the bodies,” the doctor said while revealing that there were around 200 staff members, 400 patients and 400 attendants still present in the hospital premises.

“None of them can go out. It seems as if they have been held hostage. On top of that, we are out of food and medicines. We have also heard that the curfew is going to be extended,” he said angrily. “It is worrying that the administration is unconcerned about the patients admitted here.”

Another doctor said the two other major public hospitals were also facing a similar situation, with outpatient departments giving a deserted look. Ambulances also remained stuck in traffic jams and the emergency wards were facing a staff shortage, he added.

On the other hand, Provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah called on local religious leaders and assured them there would be a judicial inquiry into the incident. He urged them to strive collectively to restore peace and calm their followers down. The district administration is also trying to bring the situation back to normalcy by holding dialogue with religious scholars of both sects.

Businesses remained shut

Life in Rawalpindi has remained paralysed since a curfew was imposed on Friday immediately after the clashes broke out. Rawat Chowk, Morgah, Pir Wadhai, Chur Chowk, Faizabad interchange have since been blocked by placing freight containers on the roads leading in and out of the areas.

Announcements were made through mosque loudspeakers and the army and Rangers were called in to control the situation. They are patrolling the various markets and are deputed throughout the city.

Landline services in most areas including College Road were suspended, and adding to the residents’ miseries, cellular service will also remain suspended till Sunday afternoon.

Traffic SSP Ishtiaq Shah said that the section of Airport Road connecting the air terminal to Islamabad has not been closed for public.

However, no arrangements were been made by the Civil Aviation Authority to facilitate those travelling from the sealed Rawalpindi side, where travellers had to walk great distances with their luggage.

The Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education Rawalpindi has also indefinitely postponed its exams.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2013.


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