LAHORE   -   Lahore Police on Friday registered criminal cases against several leaders of the opposition parties, a day after they took out anti-government rallies nationwide.

Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira, and veteran politician Javed Hasmi are among the protest leaders named in the FIRs.

At least five separate cases have been registered under various sections of the law with Lahore’s Civil Lines and Qila Gujjar Singh police stations against as many as 58 opposition leaders.

Other prominent names include Sheikh Rohail Ashgar, Mian Tariq, Dr Asad Ashraf, Uzma Bokhari, Bilal Yasin, Birjees Tahir, Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rahman, and Khurram Dastagir.

As many as 1,800 to 1,900 political workers are also mentioned in the FIRs as "unknown persons". The police will go through CCTV footage to identify such unidentified protesters. However, no arrest has been made so far.

Interestingly, Federal Minster Fawad Chaudhry claimed on Friday that Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed the authorities to allow the Opposition to hold peaceful rallies. "... it will only expose the Opposition as they hold no street power and people of Pakistan are sick of them," the minister claimed in a tweet.

The same day, Special Assistant to PM on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan said the federal cabinet has decided not to stop opposition rallies.

Led by the PML-N and PPP, the parties including the so-called 'joint opposition' took out rallies in several big cities to mark “Black Day” on Thursday, on the first anniversary of the last year's general elections. They unanimously reject election results saying the PTI government came into power by stealing votes.

In Lahore, the opposition parties took out rallies from different parts of the city and gathered at Faisal Chowk on The Mall, where they strongly condemned the government’s policies. They also chanted anti-government slogans, demanding Prime Minister Imran Khan to step down.

The cases were registered on  the complaint of the station house officers under sections 147,149, 290, 291, 353, 186, 427 of the PPC, the Punjab Sound System (Regulation) Act 2015, and the Punjab Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance 1960.

Also, the city police registered separate cases against the poor labourers for displaying banners and posters on the important roads and crossing in the metropolis.

Thousands of workers of PML-N, PPP, and JUI-F on Thursday defied the police crackdowns and crossed obstacles to take part in the protest rallies. Although the city police blocked all the major crossings by placing heavy containers, most of the protesters managed to converge at the Faisal Chowk to join the main rally.

According to the FIR, the protesters equipped with wooden sticks took over roads and clashed with police when they were stopped from heading towards Mall road. The protesters also triggered traffic mess by blocking the roads. The FIRs also say the political workers also broke police barriers, made incendiary speeches, and chanted anti-government slogans.