Islamabad  - Several events planned in connection with World Theatre Day, focusing on peace through theatre, were sabotaged by the violent protesters who occupied D-Chowk of the federal capital for consecutive four days.

Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA) virtually became a no-go area for the artists and students who had rehearsed extensively to show performance with a message of peace and tolerance through their plays.

The PNCA situated in close proximity of D-Chowk had to postpone several theatrical performances after the religious extremists laid siege to the nearby places, damaging civic infrastructure and paralysing life in the federal capital.

“The PNCA Youth Drama Festival scheduled from March 30 to April 4 has been postponed due to unavoidable circumstances. New dates will be announced later on,” the PNCA said in a statement issued here.

Supporters of Mumtaz Qadri, who was executed by the government for murdering former Governor Punjab Salman Taseer, forced their way to D-Chowk on Sunday laying virtually siege to the sensitive area.

The angry mob tortured journalists and pelted the bus stations along Jinnah Avenue with stones, besides threatening the government to go to extreme action if their demands were not met.

Their 4-day stay at the venue terrified people working in nearby offices including the management of the PNCA that had planned a series of dramas, theatrical events, dances and much more in connection with World Theatre Day celebrated on March 27.

“How can we endanger the lives of artists and students when the entry routes to our office are occupied by a violent mob? We are sad to announce that the messages of peace and intolerance through theatre were dominated by practical violence in nearby streets,” Syed Amber Shah, a spokesman for the PNCA told The Nation yesterday.

The PNCA, however, said it will reschedule dates for the plays as by that time, the government and the protesters had not announced formal negotiations.

Federal Urdu University was supposed to present its play “Umeed” on March 30 followed by a second play to be performed by Government Post Graduate College, 6th Road, Rawalpindi titled “Diya Jala-e-Rakhna.” Similarly, the Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi had rehearsed its play “Gungi Juro” and its students had to perform it at the PNCA auditorium. Likewise, Quaid-e-Azam University was to present its play “Alif Iqbal” on April 2 while Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science & Technology was to present its play “Ishq Gadagar” on April 3. The sixth play was to be presented by COMSATS Institute of Science and Technology titled ‘Love Aaj Kal” on April 4.