LAHORE - City police last week seized more than 300 shipping containers and mini trucks on the orders of Lahore DIG (Operations) Shahzad Akbar so that the provincial metropolis could be lockdown, more effectively. 

The field police officers, to implement the sophisticated strategy, sprung into action and stopped drivers of shipping containers and trucks on the highways. The police detained the drivers after placing long-vehicles at more than 50 different points in Lahore.

The police “strategy” of imposing a virtual lockdown on the city by arresting the poor drivers and sizing shipping containers of private companies was not only illegal but also it badly failed to yield the desired results.

Almost all the shipping containers and drivers were released by police after more than 48 hours. The government did not pay rent or fuel charges to the poor drivers. But, according to some drivers, they had to bribe the police to get their vehicles back without more delay.

More interestingly, after placing the provincial capital on lockdown Lahore police launched crackdown on political workers who took out protest rallies to welcome ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz. Hundreds of PML-N workers were arrested and sent to jail.

Protesters on Friday clashed with police as the anti-riot units tried to bar them from moving towards the Lahore airport. The police fired tear shells to disperse the protesters who also pelted police with stones.

Dozens of people including six policemen were injured during the clashes which erupted at Joray Pull, Ravi Toll Plaza, Scheme More, Johar Town, and Chungi Amarsidhu. The clashes between police and political workers continued till late Friday.

The following morning, police registered criminal and terrorism cases against political leaders and activists for defying section 144 and taking out rallies, attacking policemen, creating lawlessness like situation and damaging public property. The political leaders strongly deny the charges and stated that “not a leaf was broken.”  Those booked in criminal and terrorism cases included former prime minister, chief minister, and federal ministers. At least 12 cases were registered against more than 800 unidentified workers of PML-N at different police stations in Lahore. However, over two dozen PML-N leaders including women activists were nominated as accused persons in the FIRs.

Ex-PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, PML-N President and former Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif, his son Hamza Shehbaz, senior politician Javed Hashmi, Sardar Ayyaz Sadiq, and Raja Zafar-ul-Haq were also booked under anti-terrorism act. On Friday afternoon, a large numbers of supporters gathered at Lohari Gate from where Shehbaz Sharif led the rally towards the airport.

The other leaders nominated in the FIRs included Saira Afzal Tarrar, Uzma Bukhari, Maryam Orangzaib, Haji Hanif, Kamram Michal, Lahore’s Mayor Col (retired) Mubashir, Kabeer Taj, Musaddaq Malik, Bilal Yasin, Ghazali Saleem Butt, Waheed Alam Khan, Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rahman, Tallal Chaudhry, Mian Akhlaq, Malik Waheed, Munir Shah, Khawaja Salman Rafique, Talha Barki, Ahsan Sharafat, and Rana Inam Ullah.

The cases were filed under section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act and section 324/ 440/ 353/ 186/ 188/ 291/ 290/ 506/ 148/ 149 of the PPC, 16 MPO, and the Punjab Sound System Regulation Act 2015.

Many PML-N leaders on Friday took out protest rallies to receive ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam. They were convicted by an accountability court in the Avenfield corruption reference. Nawaz Sharif and his daughter courted their arrest Friday night minutes after they landed at Lahore airport. Then, they were sent to jail in Rawalpindi by helicopter.

About arrest of those nominated in the FIRs, Capital City Police Officer B.A. Nasir said that the police were not stopped from arresting the suspects. “The investigation wing of the Lahore police will do complete justice,” the officer said in a press statement on Sunday.

The CCPO claimed that the police were investigating all aspects of the incidents in which public property was damaged and dozens of police were subjected to torture. “The arrests will be made as per law in the light of the evidences, for further investigation.”

The city police chief also said the investigation, related to the incidents in which protesters took the law into their hands, would be completed 100 percent on merit. He said senior police officers were investigating the cases related to damaging the public property and torture on policemen.

On the other hand, police have intensified clampdown on those found involved in violation of the code of conduct during election campaigns across the province. An official on Sunday said at least 130 cases were registered against 17,606 persons during the last four days. Also, 270 supporters of candidates were arrested for violating the code of conduct devised by the election commission of Pakistan.

At least 39 supporters of PTI, 16,868 of PML-N and others parties, and 654 workers and supporters of independent candidates were among those booked by police. Similarly, at least 154 cases and 293 Qalandras were registered under Goonda Act and 244 people were arrested whereas 242 cases and 407 Qalandras were registered and 380 accused were arrested under Habitual Offender Act during the last four days.

Earlier, Punjab IGP claimed that the police would continue taking non-discriminatory actions against those who will violate election commission’s code of conduct. All the RPOs and DPOs were directed to ensure the implementation of the code of conduct in their regions and districts so that the law abiding citizens would not face any kind of inconvenience.