LAHORE - IFTIKHAR ALAM/KHALID MALIK - The heart of Pakistan - Lahore - remained clogged yesterday due to different demonstrations.

While not mentioning the troubles, people are daily facing because of the under-construction Orange Line project; the ultra-protected visit of PPP co-chairman Bilawal Bhutto to the Lahore High Court added to public woes.

Blind people protested at Kalma Chowk, students at Canal Road, teachers at Punjab University, Orange Line-affected people at Lahore Press Club and government employees at Civil Secretariat.

Even as they all were angry at the government alone, it took hours for any public representative or government official to reach out to the protesters.

The blind, however, were given a blind eye completely, before they postponed the demo for today.

De-Lighted: Thousands of commuters remained caught in traffic queues for hours on dust polluted roads in the city. Though they face nuisance on almost daily basis on mud-covered paths around construction sites of the Orange Line where a person can’t breathe easily, Monday was even more troubled and irritating for them.

Dozens of visually impaired protesters blocked the Metro Bus Route at around 10am for almost two hours and later in the evening for an hour when nobody in authority woke up to contact them. They kept blocked the two-way traffic on Ferozepur Road - the busiest route of Lahore city - leading to long queues of vehicles.

It is the third time these differently-abled people are out on streets demanding one per cent quota allocated for special persons in addition to regularising blind persons who are on contract jobs. They say the age relaxation on employment should be reduced.

Their negotiations with Lahore DCO and CCPO failed, after they were denied permission to meet the Punjab Chief Minister. Later, PTI leader Ashraf Sohna also joined them at their protest camp near Kalma Chowk.

‘Aliens of BZU’: Only two miles away from the blind’s camp, hundreds of students protested on the Canal Road against the ‘alienation’ following the disapproval of the Bahauddin Zakariya University in Multan regarding an ‘illegal’ campus, located in Muslim Town, Lahore.

The students blocked the main road for all type of traffic for hours and demanded of the authorities to protect their two academic years already spent at the campus.

They said they had paid heavy fees in last two and half years for the peace of mind that they were studying at a prestigious educational institution. But the scam was exposed when the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arrested former BZU vice-chancellor Khawaja Alqama over alleged funds embezzlement.

On the other hand, BZU VC Dr Tahir Memon says its affiliation with the main campus is out of question. Whereas, the protestors said they have anything to do with the corruption scandal and sought accountability of their two academic years and money from the government.

The students, however, called off their protest when Education Minister Rana Mashood met them and promised to visit their campus today. He is expected to make important announcement regarding the issue.

‘Red Line’: Another two miles away from the ‘BZU campus’, angry Punjab University teachers protested over the government plans to demolish their homes to make way for Orange Line Metro Train.

More than hundred placard-wielding members of the university’s Academic Staff Association chanted slogans at the PU’s New Campus and warned they will demonstrate outside the Chief Minister’s House unless the government withdraws its evacuation notices and changes the Metro route.

The teachers are the latest group to challenge the government’s ambitious plans to build a new transport system for the provincial capital. Last year the heritage campaigners denounced the government plans to destroy a number of historic buildings including part of the landmark colonial GPO headquarters. More recently motorcycle dealers, shopkeepers and residents have all voiced opposition to their properties being cleared for the project.

Forty of the PU Housing Society’s 295 homes and plots are to be destroyed or allocated to the Orange Line Metro Route for its main office building.

Earlier a rally of several hundred teachers at the university’s Al-Raazi Hall heard how many of those ASA members living in them had paid installments to the society for 13 years to stay in their homes. Several speakers called on CM Shahbaz Sharif and Lahore Development Authority vice-chairman Khawaja Ahmad Hassan to remind them about earlier assurances of sparing their houses. The teachers believed the metro train had been routed through their housing society to save the land owned by Provincial Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman and several other politicians.

They have now established a group of senior teachers to hold talks with government officials but warned of further protests if their demands were not met.

The protests at Lahore Press Club and at front of Civil Secretariat also caused huge traffic mess which lasted for hours. Traders from Railway Station area staged a strong demonstration near Shimla Hill against the under-construction Orange Line Metro Train project, funded by China. They expressed the fear that the government would demolish their shops to construct the Orange Line Metro Train.

‘Service Structure’: Government servants were out for regularization and service structure outside the Civil Secretariat. They were quietly dealt by the senior officials, before they returned to their homes.

The spots where the situation was most horrible were Ferozepur Road from Kalma Chowk to Muslim Town, Canal Road from Muslim Town to Thoker Niaz Beg at Canal Road, Multan Road from Thoker Niaz Beg to Mansora and then from Chuburgi to Civil Secretariat.

Similarly, traffic remained chocked for hours around Lahore Press Club. The long queues of motorists were witnesses at Davis Road and Allama Iqbal Road.

A rickshaw driver Muhammad Akram told The Nation that he had parked his three-wheelers for four hours in Muslim Town Morr at Ferozpur Road and could not move from there because of traffic mess. “I wasted hours standing idle here. I fear I won’t be able to earn the money enough for my family expenditures today.”