LAHORE/ISLAMABAD/KARACHI - Police on Wednesday arrested over 500 political workers including PML-N activists in a countrywide massive crackdown kicked off on Tuesday night. The arrests came after the Punjab police had been given lists of the active workers of PML-N and other parties besides active lawyers to ensure law and order situation and to bar them from participating in the long march. According to the police sources, more than two hundred workers of the PML-N were arrested from the provincial capital only while the others were held from different parts of the province. PML-N Punjab vice president Muhammad Illyas was also among the arrested people. He was attending a wedding party when a team of Islampura police headed by SHO conducted raid and arrested him amid strong resistance. Many political activists were dragged and thrashed in the presence of their relatives and neighbours. Police officials also faced strong resistance from different parts of the city. A senior police officer said that many police officers were reluctant in launching crackdown against the PML-N workers and leaders due to fear of strict departmental action by the said party senior leaders in future. It is evident from the fact that, he said, a very small number of PML-N workers were taken into custody across the province. The sources claimed that high-ups of the provincial capital police had received detention orders of at least one hundred active workers, central leaders of the political parties including PML-N and senior lawyers respectively. Though the numbers of arrested political workers were not much high as it was being expected but the frequent raids at the residences and offices of the party workers and lawyers caused huge panic among the citizens. Police sources said that due to rumours of massive crackdown, a large number of political workers, active lawyers and office bearers had already gone underground to avoid arrests. Police teams conducted raids at the residences and offices of the political party workers and office-bearers, bundled them in the vans and sent them to the local jails. Most of the arrests were made on the charges of violating section 144 imposed by the Punjab government and for their involvement in anti-state activities. Overnight raids conducted on the political workers caused huge panic among their relatives and other local residents. Police teams equipped with ladders, searchlights and handcuffs entered the residences and offices of the political workers by scaling outer walls and arrested them in the presence of their family members. Punjab police were given target to bar the active political workers from participating in the long march. The Inspector General Police Punjab issued special instructions to the Regional Police Officers, DPOs and other senior police officers to ensure imposition of section 144 and book the violators under 16 MPO and 3 MPO respectively. Meanwhile, like other parts of the province, the district police Faisalabad also launched crackdown and detained dozens of political workers. Police sources said that the police and law-enforcement agencies launched massive crackdown against the local PML-N leaders, workers, and supporters and arrested more than 155 activists from Faisalabad, Multan and some other districts. In Multan, police arrested over 50 political activists and lawyers. The imposition of section 144 turned out to be the beginning of arrest spree as PML-N, Tehreek-i-Insaaf and Jamaat-e-Islami activists as well as lawyer leaders were picked up by the cops in a still underway operation that was clamped down late Tuesday night. Sources in police department said that police were tasked to arrest at least 150 proactive leaders of opposition parties to foil the long march. However most of the workers had already gone underground to avoid arrests. The sources said that separate police teams continued raids at the residences, offices and other places for the arrests of the Tariq Naeem Ullah, MPA Shahid Mahmood Khan, Bilal Butt, Munir Langah, Malik Ashiq Shijra, Tariq Ameer Abbasi, Qurban Fatima and Sultana Shaheen. Those who were arrested till the filing of this report included Dr Hafeez Anwar, Khizar Hayat Sindhu, Abdul Wahab Chohan, Maroof Khan, Sajjad Awan, Maulana Rafique, Malik Jind Wadda Awan, Akram alias Bagga and Muhammad Arshad Bajwa. The arrests sparked strong reaction as the PML-N workers took to the roads in different parts of Multan, and staged protest demonstrations. The agitators blocked the roads at Chungi No-14, Chowk Shaheedan, and New Multan areas as protests against arrest spree and shouted slogans against the government. They also burnt tyres on the roads and called for immediate release of all arrested workers. Meanwhile, police conducted raids at the residences of provincial deputy secretary general of JI Rao Zafar Iqbal, district Ameer Rao Muhammad Zafar, local JI office, house of Tariq Naeem Ullah and other leaders. Similarly, heavy contingent of police have been deployed in entire district to maintain law and order situation. Police armed with teargas launchers and shells are seen at almost each considerable chowk of the city. However, no untoward incident was reported from any part of the district. Similarly, around two-dozen political workers, mostly of PML-N were arrested in Vehari district, the sources in police department. The arrested workers included Haji Manzoor Hussain, Munawar Hussain and Talib Hussain. Gunman of PML-N district president and former MPA Dr Nazir Ahmad Mithu Dogar, and City general Secretary Youth Wing were also among the arrested workers. Dera Ghazi Khan police launched raids at the residences of the PML-N workers, office bearers, Jamaat-I-Islami, Tehreek-e-Insaaf, Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith besides lawyers but failed to arrest anybody as all had gone underground. Sialkot police managed to arrest 45 PML-N activists and lawyers during raids. According to the sources, the police raided at the offices and residences of the PML-N local leaders and activists in Sialkot, Daska, Bhopalwala, Sambrial, Uggoki, Satrah, Pasrur, Chawinda, Badiana and surrounding areas. In Sialkot, the sources said, the police arrested 35 PML-N workers while five each were held from Daska and Pasrur respectively. In crackdown launched in various areas of Pakpattan, the police arrested 11 activists of PML-N. At Malakwal also, police arrested PML-N district vice president Tariq Mahmood, district General Secretary of youth wing Daniyal Haider Butt, city General Secretary Talibul Maula along with Akbar Kamboh, Jammat-I-Islami Tehsil Amir Prof Ansar Ahmad advocate, Saeed Ahmad, Sheikh Iftikhar Ahmad and others. In Islamabad, police launched a crackdown against the leaders and activists of lawyers' community and different political parties including Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) to halt their participation in the long march starting today and sit-in in the federal capital on March 16. Authorities banned protests in Islamabad, Punjab and Sindh by imposing Section 144. "Rallies and protests have been banned throughout Punjab," a senior Home Department official told on condition of anonymity. "Rangers have been requisitioned to help improve the security. If needed, the Army would also be called in to maintain calm," the official added. In Islamabad, at least 35 political activists and lawyers were detained during raids so far, told a source. Those rounded up include PNL-N activists and leaders including Raja Zafarul Haq. He was placed under house arrest, police said. Police also searched in vain for cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, who lives just outside the capital. "Raids are being conducted at various places in Lahore and some arrests have been made," senior police official told. "The government has provided lists of people to police and raids are being made to arrest them," he added. In Rawalpindi, police failed to arrest any major political leader but nabbed many political workers and activists and shifted them to various places. Heavy contingents of police raided the houses of PML-N leaders including PML-N General Secretary Rawalpindi City Sardar Naseem Khan, Additional Information Secretary Punjab Ilyas Subhani, central leaders of Muslim Youth Organization Akmal Mirza and Maqbool Ahmed Khan. However, no one was apprehended. Police also stormed into the PML-N House after breaking its locks and took all the record into possession, while heavy contingent of police force had also been deployed around the PML-N House. Police clashed with demonstrators in many cities in eastern Punjab, who defied the government's ban. They fired teargas on protesters in Multan and arrested several of them. Observers fear that the deepening political crisis could lead to intervention by the military. In Karachi, authorities chalked out a strategy to prevent political and non-political organisations from participating in the lawyers' long march to be held on March 16 in Islamabad. Sindh government has imposed Section 144 across the province banning all political and non-political gatherings and rallies. It has also extended the ban on pillion ridding for another 30 days. Meanwhile, Sindh police have arrested six leaders of Jamat-e-Islami including Hafiz Naeemur Rehman, Nasarullah Shahji, Hafiz Naeem, Khalid Khan, Shahid Qureshi, Musheer Ahmed Alvi and Naseeruddin Hussaini from Nomish Chorangi area. According to well-placed sources, the police have prepared a list of some 23 top leaders and workers belonging to PML-N, JI, TI and the lawyers' community who would be arrested soon. They included former Sindh Chief Minister Syed Ghaus Ali Shah, Sardar Raheem, Saleem Zia, Mamnoon Hussain, Imdad Chandio, Makhdoom Shah Nawaz, Khan Mohammad, Saeed Tanoli, Ismail Raho, Azhar Ali Hamdani, Sher Ali Kakar, Malik Safdar, Bilal Ejaz Shafi, Lala Akbar, Faryal Makhdoom. Names of prominent lawyers leaders such as Justice Wajihuddin, former president SCBA Munir A Malik, Justice Rasheed A Rizvi, Qazi Iftikhar, Advocate Khalid Anwar, Advocate Asmat Naibe and advocate Anwar Niazi are also included in the said list.