Sunni Council long march halted by police
RAWALPINDI: Police stopped long march of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) by blocking roads with containers at Sawan Adda, Rawalpindi, Geo News reported on Saturday.
However, SIC activists held a sit-in, which was continuing till late at night, where their march was intercepted. Over 100 local SIC leaders and activists were arrested. Negotiations also held between the local administration and SIC leaders.
The long march has been organised against terrorism, the government’s alleged plan to repeal blasphemy laws, price hike and security situation in the country. The police in twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi jumped to action on Saturday morning in a bid to stop SIC long march from Islamabad to Lahore. The long march titled ‘Save Pakistan’ started from Hazrat Bari Imam Shrine, which was sealed. SIC workers arriving onboard Khyber Mail were arrested at Rawalpindi Railway Station.
A spokesman for the SIC said over 200 activists had been arrested. In view of security concerns, the government was in top gear since on Friday to stop Islamabad-Lahore SIC long march.
Islamabad’s exits and entry points especially the roads leading to Bari Imam Darbar were heavily guarded with baton-wielding police contingents. Large contingents of police were also deployed outside seminaries. Some of local SIC leaders were browbeaten into staying back. Nineteen Sunni Tehrik workers including a local leader were arrested in Jhelum.
INP adds: Clash between participants of the long march and the police started when marchers tried to remove containers placed at Sawan Adda. The police thrashed marchers and fired tear gas shells to disperse them. SIC activists torched containers and pelted vehicles with stones to vent their anger. Police reportedly arrested senior SIC leader Haji Hanif Tayyab besides dozens of other activists. Dozens of other SIC activists also received injuries during clash with the police force.
Talking to reporters, SIC chairman Haji Fazal Karim and Sunni Tehrik President Sarwat Ejaz Qadri said police ruthlessly thrashed and fired tear gas shells at the peaceful marchers. They said the SIC would continue sit-in at the Swan Bridge unless the government allowed them to march forward towards Lahore.
The local administration has imposed Section 144 in Rawalpindi and several activists from various religious seminaries have been arrested.
Our correspondent adds: Tahaffuz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat Mahaz (TNRM) leaders on Saturday warned that the Islamabad-Lahore ‘Save Pakistan Long March’ launched by the Sunni Ittehad Council would continue despite arrest of workers. They said all component parties of the alliance would gather at Data Darbar on Sunday afternoon at all costs.
This was stated by TNRM President Allama Razaul Mustafa Naqshbandi and other leaders while addressing a press conference at Jamia Naeemia on Saturday. They condemned arrests and police barricades against the long march, saying the Punjab government’s oppressive tactics were reminiscent of the Musharraf era brutalities against Islamic parties. They said the Punjab police conducted widespread raids on the houses of SIC leaders and the Sunni seminaries where they harassed workers.
They said long marchers would be welcomed at Shahdara Chowk on Sunday afternoon while all Sunni parties would gather at Data Darbar at 2pm as per schedule. They warned that if the government blocked the plan and made any further arrests, protests would be held in every street of Lahore and the Punjab government would be responsible for any unpleasant incident.
They alleged that the Punjab government had arrested hundreds of Sunni workers from 22 districts of the province, while police were pulling down the Sunni Ittehad banners and removing welcome camps from different cities and towns along the route of the long march.
TNRM Secretary General Mohammad Ali Naqshbandi, Information Secretary Ziaul Haq Naqshbandi, Pir Athar Qadri, Naeem Javed Noori, Mufti Masoodur Rehman, Mufti Haseeb Qadri, Mujahid Abdul Rasool Qadri, Khurram Riaz Shah and others were also present on the occasion.
Source: The News