LAHORE - The interim government Thursday seized scores of containers from parts of the metropolis to bar PML-N workers from reaching the airport to welcome ousted PM Nawaz Sharif.
The containers, being placed on all entry and exit points, virtually disconnected the provincial capital from other parts of the country. The containers were also placed on busy roads and important crossings leading to the airport.
Following the orders of caretaker government, the city police sprung into action and seized more than 200 containers in a few hours, forcing drivers to stay in the capital till the end of ‘security operation’.
Drivers told The Nation that policemen also abused them when they refused to hand over their long vehicles. They complained that the police action could cost them in millions. They said that they would have to grease the palm of police to get their vehicles back even after the completion of ‘security operation’.
Aslam Khan, a truck driver, said the police seized his long vehicle under duress. “I was just trying to enter Lahore when I was stopped by police near Thokar Niaz Baig. Cops took me and my container to Muhafiz Town. They too threatened to lock up me as I resisted their move,” Khan said. He said that the police would never pay for the damages.
Another driver Nazir Ahmad said the police would also demand bribe for the release his container. “We are also detained by police. We can’t move without the permission of policemen. This is nothing but police brutality,” he said. “Who will pay the rent of the containers? Who will pay the damages?” questioned the 50-year-old driver.
Mustafa Ahmad, who runs a goods transport company, termed the police actions totally illegal and demanded the caretaker government to immediately release all the seized vehicles. “What is the fault of poor drivers and owners of long vehicles? Whenever protests are scheduled in Lahore, police seize our vehicles to block roads. This is unfair and unacceptable,” he said angrily.
On the other hand, sources say that the police department collect huge amount from the provincial government in the name of security operations. But the poor drivers and owners of the long vehicles are deprived of the rent.
Police in Lahore are used to take such actions. In 2014, the last PML-N government had also placed private containers to quell protests of rival PTI and PAT.
City traffic police department on Thursday released the traffic control and management plan with alternative routes for the general public. According to a police spokesman, the vehicular traffic coming from Islamabad would be allowed to enter Lahore through the motorway, Thokar Niaz Baig, Qazalbash Chowk, and Shaukat Khanum Chowk.
Motorists using the GT Road will be allowed to use the motorway through Kala Shah Kaku to Thokar Niaz Baig while traffic will be diverted towards Kala Khatai Road from Shahdara Chowk and Begum Kot to Faizpur Interchange.
The motorists coming from Multan Road will be able to use Bund Road and Mohlanwal Road. The traffic coming from Raiwind will be diverted towards Baloki Road and Suey-Asal Road through to Nala Hadyara and Defense Road so that they would move towards Kacha Jail Road and Green Town.
The traffic from Ferozpur Road will be diverted towards Kahna Kacha Road Green Town and Rohi Nala Road to enter Defence, Lahore. Similarly, traffic on Bedian Road would be allowed to enter Lahore through Defence Phase 5. The motorists on Barki Road traffic can use Defence Phase 6 and 8 to enter city.
The motorists leaving Lahore will be allowed to use Maulana Shaukat Ali Road, Main Boulevard Johar Town, Shaukat Khanum, Qazalbash Chowk, motorway interchange, and Multan Road.
The traffic police will also provide shuttle service to international passengers to reach airport. The shuttle service will be available at Bhatta Chowk, Niazi Saheed Chowk, Mahfooz Chowk, and Gujjumatta.
Lahore DIG (Operations) Shahzad Akbar said that all superintendents of police were ordered to take strict action against miscreant elements.
According to a press release, the DIG said that those who violated the election code of conduct would find themselves behind bars. He also said that nobody would be allowed to take the law into their own hands. According to a police spokesman, at least 10,000 police would be deployed across the city counter the protesters.