ISLAMABAD - "Constitution Avenue", Saturday, 9.40pm, PTI Chairman Imran Khan is addressing his thousands of supporters gathered in the parade avenue protesting against alleged rigging in the last general elections. After protesting peacefully since August 19 and demanding resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Khan seemed impatient, now.
"We have been giving deadlines to the government but they acted like a deaf man, we cannot accept anything less than PM's resignation, so now we will proceed to the Prime Minister House, my tigers and tigresses get ready," he told his supporters through the sophisticated sound system installed over his custom built container.
"I will lead, and you will follow, trust your captain, he will not leave you ever," he continued motivating his supporters, men, woman and children, who have been coming daily on the call of their leader, promising to change their life by eliminating all injustice from the system, once he gets into power.
Close to the PTI enclave, PAT chief Tahir ul Qadri was mulling the final march.
"Wrap up all the tents and collect your gear and be ready for the final day," Qadri was giving his followers the final call.
During his addresses, Qadri had promised he will not leave without the resignation of Prime Minister and Chief Minister Punjab, and in case of any state resistance he would be the first to face it, he repeated his promises again.
"My chest is here for the bullets, I will face torture first, promise me you will not leave me, I will not let you down, this is the one time opportunity to get rid of the corrupt system," he has been encouraging his religious followers, exhibiting his chest by removing his shirt, since the beginning of the protest.
At 10pm, after the orders of Qadri, PAT workers assembled and started marching towards Prime Minister House, from D-Chowk.
"Women and children, I command you to remain here, once we reach and settle at PM House, we will call you," the PTI Chief delivered new instructions.
At around 10.30pm PTI was caught in shock when police started heavy shelling, baton charging and firing rubber bullets. At that time the PTI caravan had started its march, whereas PAT protestors were ahead of them. Khan was present at the top of the container, moving with snail speed, whereas his thousands of workers were marching in front, escorting their general, who was observing the battlefield from his command post.
Shien, shien, turrr, tha, tha ... police was firing tear gas shells, rubber bullets and drumming their sticks over their shields, making a frightening sound.... and people started running. It was thick cloud of tear gas everywhere, it was difficult to open eyes, even to take breath.... many women fainted and fell in the lawns, and remained their unattended.
Khan immediately ran away inside the container along with his lieutenants and some unknown faces got control of the microphone. Tahir Ul Qadri, who was sitting at the backseat of his bullet proof and bomb proof expensive Sports Utility Vehicle, squeezed himself more behind his driver and body guard, after hearing the scary sounds of the assault.
Soon the PAT workers got out of the shock and started organizing again, but it was too much for untrained youth of PTI. Many tried to run away from the scene and fell prey to the police brutality.
The whole road was turned into a battlefield, stones thrown from more sides fuelled the anger, and PAT workers reacted with slingshots. Confused protestors were like besieged from all sides, they were running here and there but there was no one to guide them.
Imran Khan took refuge from the shelling and firing and went inside the container, whereas some of unknown workers were hysterically shouting on the microphones telling people to proceed towards PM house.
Khan continued to make brief appearances on the roof of his container, rubbing his white handkerchief over his face to get some comfort from the poisoning gases, uttered short sentences.
"We will not leave without the resignation of PM, you all reach here today," Khan said while looking into the lens of some cameras who managed to reach his container.
After the appearance, Khan's lieutenants also ran inside the container, following their general.
On the other hand, stranded among the squads of furious police, general PTI workers were begging for some water from their PAT cousins who sprayed water from plastic sprayers.
Angry PAT workers broke the iron grill of Parliament House and tried to enter the building, where Army, politely told them to stay away. The protestors happily complied the orders and even clapped for Army. On Constitution Avenue, hide and seek between demonstrators and police continued throughout the night.
As the morning progressed, the clashes slowed down. Some die-hard youngsters exhausted from the brawl, took refuge under a tree, they were analysing the situation.
Our peaceful protest was hijacked by Shiekh Rashid, Chaudhry Shujaat and Chaudhry Pervaiz. They were the people who were responsible for mishandling the Lal Masjid issue and now they have again thrown our empty handed people in front of the police wolves, one young man, wearing Pakistan cricket team suit, said to the other.
"No, I think, it was a good decision to proceed, it has been more than 15 days and the crowd at the parade avenue had started thinning. On the other hand, you should appreciate Khan is also tired, he is grown up in comforts, 15 days in the container is already too much for him," another young man justified the last days quest.
Imran Khan and Tahir Ul Qadri popped out of their containers in a fresh look. Their suits were changed and they were looking clean and bright.
At around 11.45 am in the morning, CM KPK Khattack supplied mineral water bottles, omelets, Paratha, butter and other items of English breakfast, enough for many. White crockery was sent inside the container along with the breakfast.
Some hundred meters away, in the lawns of Parliament House, there were thousands of the hungry and thirsty protesters camped in the ground, while some were roaming here and there in search of some pieces of food.
A woman was showing her two-year-old pale child to media, which was without milk since Saturday evening.
"I have not any piece of food since Saturday evening after the clash began, and so is my son, those all are starving as police stopped food supply vans after the clash," she said.
She was telling media totally unaware that her revolutionary leaders, icons of social justice, were having lavish food inside their air-conditioned fortresses.