LAHORE - A rickshaw driver climbed to a high-voltage electricity pole and threatened suicide to protest against the city traffic police on Ferozepur Road near Model Town courts on early Sunday.

But a traffic police officer quickly claimed that a mentally-retarded man climbed to the pole in the limits of Naseerabad police to get attention of the local media. Reportedly, police and rescue workers managed to rescue the poor rickshaw driver who climbed atop an electricity pole and threatened to take his life in a protest against ‘heavy fine’ by the traffic police.

Later, the man threw a note towards the officials from the pole stating that he was fined Rs1,750 by the city traffic officials during the so-called traffic campaign. He said he was unable to afford the medical expenses of his family admitted to a hospital. He also threatened suicide by jumping from the pole.

Meanwhile, rescue and police officials reached the site and used a crane to get closer to the person. Lesco officials also suspended electricity in the area to ensure the person does not get electrocuted.

After holding a series of negotiations with the rickshaw driver, Rescue 1122 officials managed to convince him that his grievances would be redressed at priority and no action would be taken against him.

The rickshaw driver later spoke to the media as he landed from the pole. The resident of district Jhang said that he climbed atop the pole with the help of his friend who disappeared later. Soon as he came down, the driver was taken into police custody and shifted to unknown place.

A senior traffic police officer told reporters that the man was not a rickshaw driver and he was not protesting against the police. At a news conference, police officer Sardar Asif claimed that the man, identified as Amin wanted to record his protest in view of the current political scenario.

In Lahore, the city traffic police have become a “challan force” as poor people mostly motorcyclists and rickshaw drivers are taken to task in the name of traffic laws. Frequently, they are issued fine tickets by the police while the traffic officers are unable to punish the influential car drivers.

In 2012, the entire Babu Sabu interchange had turned into battlefield after protesting rickshaw drivers went on the rampage, thrashed policemen, and pelted the cops with stones. More than 10 people including protesters and policemen sustained injuries and were rushed to nearby hospitals.

Hundreds of poor rickshaw drivers were protesting against excessive traffic challans and huge fines being imposed on them by the traffic wardens in the city. They blocked the road in Babu Sabu area by setting the old tyres on fire.

The clash, which left many people injured from both the sides, erupted when one of the drivers climbed up a high-voltage electricity pole to protest against the traffic police highhandedness and excessive challans.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 17-Jul-2017 here.