LAHORE - Life was crippled on the second day (Sunday) as police sealed off many parts of Lahore by placing shipping containers and setting up pickets in bid to thwart Pakistan Awami Tehreek protest.
The violent clashes between the government and the PAT workers brought the routine life to a halt across the province. Amid fear and panic, many shops remained shut and businesses and petrol pumps were closed.
The police sealed off all the entry and exit points of Lahore for the public transport, disconnecting the provincial capital from other parts of the province.
Heavy police contingents were deployed at many points in the city while armed patrolling on gun-fitted vehicles was intensified in the sensitive areas.
Even the ambulances and wedding caravans were not allowed to enter Lahore and many people were seen cursing the government for creating the mess and multiplying the miseries of the common man.
Some motorists staged demonstrations at Thokar Niaz Baig Chowk against the government for blocking the road. The policemen were also seen arguing with the motorists. At Ravi Bridge, policemen beat up a youth who exchanged harsh words with them for not clearing the road.
“We - the common people - are suffering because of the ongoing confrontation between the PAT and provincial hierarchy. What is our fault? Why the government is penalising us,” questioned 55-year-old car-rider, Muhammad Mushtaq, who was stopped at Thokar Niaz Baig by policemen. At the Shahadra point, even the people were not allowed to enter Lahore on foot.
Lahore police forcibly impounded dozens of shipping containers including some loaded with goods, to block the roads on Thursday. The traders protested against the police highhandedness but neither the government paid rent to the owners nor released the containers. Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Zulfiqar Hameed told reporters that the containers would be removed on Sunday evening but the police did not clear the roads for general traffic till late Sunday.
The Lahore administration had placed the containers on many roads in different parts of the city to block the roads and restrict the movement of agitators. The Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) on Saturday ordered the police the remove all the containers to clear the roads for general public but he later withdrew the orders.
Police sources said they could not tell when the containers would be removed since they were implementing the security strategy on the orders of the Punjab government.
Fuel supply resumes
After two days of mess, fuel was partially available at filling stations on Sunday amid the government’s claim of restoration of full supply till Monday (today).
Despite holiday, long queues of motorists were seen at different fuel outlets where the fuel was available while around 50 per cent of them were closed.
The public transport, however, was remained off road at main city routes, creating problem for commuter. The inter-city transport was also limited for the passengers. Multan Road, Canal Road, Jail Road, Mall Road and Raiwind Road were almost empty for urban transport. The commuter used rickshaws and chingchis for their travelling needs by paying high fare to their owners against the common day charges.
Lahore is already facing a severe shortage of public transport to meet the demand of millions of commuters and if the petrol shortage along with scarcity of public transport continued on Monday, the situation would further turn into worst.
The government official, meanwhile, claimed that fuel tanks had been reached and supply would become normal till Sunday late night.