RAWALPINDI/ISLAMABAD The Sawan River Bridge turned into a battlefield when the local police resorted to using tear-gas shelling to disperse hundreds of charged activists of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) when they approached the Sawan bus stand to travel to Lahore on Saturday evening. According to their schedule, the SIC marchers were to leave Rawalpindi for Lahore to reach Data Darbar, the planned location for the rally, against rising incidents of terrorism, attacks on shrines and price hike in the country. The long march was organised by SIC under the leadership of its Chairman Sahibzada Fazal Karim against terrorism, price hike, unemployment, and attacks on shrines of Sufis in the country. Hundreds of demonstrators of SIC were stopped by heavy contingent of police by placing containers at GT Road at Sawan River Bridge as they tried to march towards Data Darbar Lahore through GT Road, the planned location of the rally. However, the SIC workers retaliated by pelting stones and smashing the windowpanes of vehicles (containers) placed by police to block the way of rally. The tension began, when hundreds of SIC charged workers tried to remove the barricades erected by the Punjab police under the supervision of the City Police Officer (CPO) Raja Fakher Sultan. On this police fired teargas and started baton charge to keep SIC workers away from containers and barricades. In retaliation, the SIC workers got annoyed and smashed mirrors of containers, buses and other vehicles with the help of bamboos and wooden sticks. Enraged protestors also pelted police with stones. The scuffle between police and SIC workers left many protestors severe injured, who were later shifted to nearby hospitals by Rescue 1122. SIC leader including Sahibzada Fazal Karim told the media men that the protest would continue until and unless we receive a clear way to reach Data Darbar Lahore. They also condemned Chief Minister (CM) Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif for creating hurdles in the way of a peaceful rally. The scuffle between police and SIC workers continued till the filing of this report. Earlier, defying restrictions and barricades placed by Punjab government to bar the entrance of long march of SIC in the city, hundreds of SIC workers and leadership succeeded in reaching the busiest Benazir Bhutto Road (BBR) paralysing normal life here on Saturday. The long march, initially started from Bari Imam Islamabad for Data Barbar Lahore under the leadership of SIC Chairman Sahibzada Fazal Karim, was participated by the councils office bearers including Nazim e Ahla SIC Muhammad Irfan Shah, Syed Safdar Shah Gillani, Qazi Zahoor Elahi, Sahibzada Ghulam Hussain Farooqi besides hundreds of other workers The participants of the rally, most of them were embarking on vehicles, were carrying wooden sticks, bamboos, flags, banners and placards mentioning slogans in favour of Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and against terrorism, attacks on shrines of Sufis, price hike and unemployment. They charged SIC workers were also chanting slogans against Punjab government. A heavy contingent of police was deployed besides erecting barbed wires at Faizabad the entrance point of Rawalpindi from Islamabad, including 6 th Road, Chandni Chowk, Rehman Abad, Moti Mehal, Mareer Chowk, Katchehri and Swan Bus Terminal Bridge. Two containers have also been put to block off the road. However, the charged SIC workers scuffled with police, broken the windowpanes by hitting sticks and removed the barbed wires to provide a passage to their leadership boarding on a truck and number of other vehicles. The restrictions were so severe that they caused great disturbance for the business community, citizens and commuters a lot. City Police Officer (CPO) Raja Fakher Sultan and other police high ups kept patrolling on BBR whereas DCO Imdad Ullah Bosal along with district government officials also remained present at the BBR. In the morning, police also put Jammat-e-Ahle Sunnat Pakistan Nazim-e-Ahla Syed Riaz Hussain Shah under house arrest at the Institute of Education of Islamia at Khayaban-e-Sir Syed. Similarly New Town Police Station officials nabbed Jamia Masjid Farooqia Khateeb Pirzada Nisar Al Mustafa and put him behind bars. Some eight SIC workers were taken into custody by law enforcers at Faizabad. Likewise, police reportedly conducted raids at various religious seminaries to stop the workers from joining the long march. Earlier, despite imposition of Section 144 in Islamabad, Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) compelled district administration and police authorities to decline in arresting their members and leadership in the jurisdiction of the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT). A large number of people, about 5,000 members under the leadership of the Chief of SIC Sahibzada Fazal Karaim, Chairman Fazalur Rehman Okarvi and others, started long march from the Bari Imam earlier on Saturday. Members of SIC expressed annoyance over the decision of the Ministry of Interior, Islamabad administration and police authority chanting slogans against terrorism and the government, headed towards Faizabad while passing through Kashmir Murree road. At one time when the really reached Rawal Dam Chowk, police had instruction to intersect the riot of large masses, but keeping in view the sensitivity of the situation Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Operation Banni Ameen decided not to use force. The members of SIC kept joining the rally on motorcycles, light and heavy vehicles. At Faizabad at Isalmabad Rawalpindi border police blocked the road with a coach of Shahbaz group Karachi Hazara Transport and Mazda bearing registration number LOT-3590. The participants of the long march rally broke the windscreen and mirrors of both vehicle and then removed them from the road. Later the leaders of SIC paid cash compensation to the drivers of both the vehicles. District administration and police authorities Islamabad police were told by the SIC leadership that if any obstacles were placed in their way, they would react strongly. Despite clear instructions from the Interior Ministry the authorities failed in stopping the SIC leadership to enter Islamabad with a large number of the members and vehicles. When contacted, DIG Operation Banni Amin said that although section 144 was imposed, yet it was decided that police would avoid any clash with the participants of the rally, and let them move ahead peacefully. To a question he said that not a single arrest was made from the territory of Islamabad. Relax strategy was adopted, however, public faced problems for they were stuck in traffic jam from three to four hours. To another question whether police were aware of the entrance of SIC leaders in Islamabad, he declined to recorded his comments on it. When contacted, Ali Gujar media organiser SIC said that their senior leadership moved from Rawalpindi to Islambad Parliament Lodges during the night by dodging the police officials of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. In the morning the SIC leaders reached Bari Imam to lead the long march. He said that Commissioner and CPO Rawalpindi agreed in the meeting to provide four elite force vehicles, but they failed to provide what they agreed. To a question, he said that police were forced to refrain from torture or arrest of SIC member in Islamabad, following a coherent strategy chalked out by the SIC leaders. To another question, he said that 250 members of SIC were arrested in Rawalpindi and 4,500 across Pakistan. He said that about 40,000 members had joined the long march rally in Liaqat Bagh. It took the rally eight hours to reach Liaqat Bagh, he added. Moreover, he said the rally would stay for three hours at Lala Musa and then proceeds to Lahore Data Darbar. Groups would join the really from various places of GT Roead, he maintained.