Shouts of ‘go Nawaz go’ and insults referencing baldness rang in the air as youngsters raced around at Aabpara Chowk. But it wasn’t the prime minister they were talking about. It was a youngster with a shaved head who had just been dismissed in their roadside cricket match.
A few metres away, PTI activists were protesting at the intersection, one of the busiest in town. As they began burning tyres, traffic snarls got worse. Fortunately for commuters, the police arrived within a few minutes, and the protesters were gone.
The protest barely lasted 20 minutes, but it took a while for traffic to normalise as the fires still needed to be put out. That became the job of young Naseemullah, a bandana-wearing teenage activist who had been left behind. The police stood over him as he used a plank to put out the fire.
As the youngster finished the cleanup operation, a policeman told The Express Tribune that “the protesters came, shouted, burned ‘garbage’ and left as soon as they saw us”, adding that they had probably moved to Faizabad for a larger planned protest.
Meanwhile, with his job done, forced-labour firefighter Naseemullah walked away, asking people if they could give him a ride to Faizabad.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 9th, 2014.
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