On December 3 police allegedly manhandled several blind people marching on The Mall to demand an increase in job quota for the disabled at government departments.
The protestors, including some highly qualified individuals, had been demonstrating in front of the Lahore Press Club since morning. The police were accused to have manhandled them when they tried to march towards the Chief Minister’s Secretariat on the Mall Road.
Talking to The Express Tribune Salman Ahmed, one of the protesters, said: “We were protesting for our right to jobs in the public sector and to demand that our quota be increased beyond two per cent. The police attacked us.”
Civil Lines SP Imtiaz Sarwar said the police had only tried to stop protestors from entering The Mall.
A police constable told The Express Tribune that the protesters had misbehaved with them and abused them. “We only tried to stop them…Some people were pushed around in the process. We were trying to stop them from entering The Mall,” he said.
Operations DIG Haider Ashraf said the protestors had been on the street since morning. The police he said, had facilitated them by arranging their meetings with the department concerned.
He said five police officials were suspended from service after the incident. “Action will be taken against them if they are found guilty of assault. We condemn all kinds of violence against citizens,” Ashraf added.
“There is a High court ruling that The Mall cannot be blocked for protests… Police had to stop them from marching on the thoroughfare. Still if they are found guilty of beating the blind people strict action will be taken against them,” government spokesperson Zaeem Qadri said.
The protesters remained at Club Road Chowk for hours and dispersed only after DCO Muhammad Usman held a successful round of talks with them.
Read the full year-in review here.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2014.
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