ISLAMABAD - The marchers have put up with a lot of inconvenience since the start of marches but their problems aggravate whenever it rains.
The rain may be a blessing but for many marchers it is punishment as many are living under the rainy sky without tents. Having a tent is a privilege when it rains but a few tents in the sit-in are not even erected properly by the management of Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT). Many who don’t have a tent use panaflex banners inscribed with the pictures of their leaders as well as polythene bags and sheets.
“There is always a stampede for shelter when the rain starts. We cover our belongings with plastic bags and use umbrellas and raincoats and keep standing till the rain stops,” said Hajra Sultana, a marcher who has come from Lahore. “When rain stops, we dry our plastic sheets for future use,” she added. She said the people who don’t have shelters use umbrellas in rains.
“It was quite cold last night due to rain and I had no blanket, warm covers or clothes,” said Badrunisa, a marcher who has come from Faisalabad, while trying to erect a plastic sheet with sticks. Badrunisa who has come along with his husband and a child said, “We did not know that the stay might prolong for weeks; otherwise, we would have kept warm clothes and covers with us. My children have been alone at home for the last 24 days and we don’t know when we will be able to return.”
Intermittent rain continued on Wednesday and according to Pakistan Meteorological Department, the current wave of rain and gusty winds are expected to continue on Thursday (today).
As weather is changing, more people are coming to medical camps set up by the PAT management itself. Roughly 400 to 500 patients visit the camp daily with complains of fever, flu, sore throat, depression, fatigue, said Dr Amina who was treating the patients.
Many people have been staying in the open since August 1 last, as they belong to other cities and started reaching Lahore after Eid, she said. “It has been over a month now. With the passage of time the issues of patients are becoming chronic. Many are mentally upset and teargas shelling has also left many with respiratory issues,” she added.
The protesters also include expecting mothers and it has been learnt that a few fell ill during the clashes and they were referred to hospitals.
Female supporters of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) are rarely seen at the venue during daytime. They come in the evening or late night, stay there for a few hours and leave to come back again the next day.