LAHORE - The Township Madina Market turned into battlefield on Friday as violent clashes erupted between the traders and town administration soon after the authorities launched anti-encroachment drive to clear the mess.

The ‘angry protesters’ also set ablaze official vehicles and pelted the staff with stones, creating lawlessness like situation in the commercial neighbourhood. Several men from both the sides including an Assistant Commissioner and 13 other official sustained injuries as the protests spread in the densely populated locality, forcing the staff to flee from the spot to save their lives.

As per details, the staff of Town Municipal Authority (TMA) Allama Iqbal Town reached Madina Market Township for performing their official duty to remove encroachments from the market and as soon they started removing encroachments from the shops and started demolishing structures on encroached land, some traders of the market tried to stop the officials requesting the officials not to remove their products, kept at outside of their shops with forbidding them to stop demolition of front areas of their shops. But the officials and members of the squad of anti-encroachment refused to stop performing their official duties and demolished some illegal declared structures.

Meanwhile, some traders started shouting and gathering at the site and when a good number of traders gathered there and they suddenly started pelting the staff with stones which resulted in severe injuries to the officials. However, the officials managed to escape from the scene leaving their official vehicles at the spot which later were destroyed by the members of angry mob with stones and wooden clubs and then set these vehicles ablaze.

According to TMO Allama Iqbal Town Ali Abbas Jaffery a case against unidentified persons has been registered in Allama Iqbal Town Police Station. A spokesman of district administration also told this scribe that a case of damaging and burning four government vehicles and wounding over a dozen officials has been registered in the concerned police station against the unidentified members of mob.

In this regard, District Coordination Officer Dr Javed Ahmad Qazi said that a campaign was launched before conducting the anti-encroachment operation, started from February 18 through newspapers and placing banners across the city.

He said that the town administrations, before conducting operation, gave opportunity to the traders by serving notices insisting them to demolish or remove their encroachments voluntarily and the administration conducted operation when the traders and shopkeepers failed to abide by the official orders.

He said that the town administration is performing their duties irrespective of any personal affiliations. He vowed that the encroachments would be eliminated completely from the city in any case even by using all resources.