LAHORE: Activists of religiopolitical parties led by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) on Friday turned violent in the provincial capital, especially on the motorway near Faizpur Interchange, where they wreaked havoc on public properties, torched vehicles and thrashed citizens.
They also clashed with police and injured 20 of them including Ferozwala DSP who had to be admitted to the Mayo Hospital in a critical condition.
The mob of 100 or so people went berserk on the motorway and damaged cars and trucks. A mobile phone footage went viral on the social media showing the TLP activists setting the vehicles on fire, with the motorists trapped in their cars. Another group of protesters holding iron rods and clubs was seen damaging vehicles as the owners stood by helplessly.
The road from Babu Sabu to Faizpur Interchange turned a scene of pitched battle after clashes erupted between the protesters and police.
Iqbal Town Division SP Operations Syed Ali and Sheikhupura SP Investigation Asadur Rehman said the activists of the religious outfits were equipped with iron roads and clubs and they mounted assault on police when they tried to rescue the citizens.
“Our 20 policemen were injured in the clashes with the mob of the TLP activists,” Mr Rehman told Dawn. The protesters, he said, pelted the police personnel with stones to avert arrests. They had come from nearby villages such as Kot Rajeet and had ample stocks of stones, clubs and other such weapons.
“Ferozwala DSP Mohammad Kamran suffered head injuries and was shifted to the Mayo Hospital in a critical condition,” he said, adding that 19 other policemen including two SHOs were also hospitalised with multiple injuries.
SP Operations Syed Ali said police had managed to have the Babu Sabu Interchange cleared. “However, a group of more than 100 activists of a religious group again occupied the place on Friday, blocking the roads for traffic,” he said.
Almost similar situation was reported in many other parts of the city. The hooligans vandalised shops, set motorcycle-rickshaws and two-wheelers on fire. They also used barbed wires and smoky tyres to block traffic at various places.
A shocking incident occurred on Ghazi Road where a group of TLP workers, mostly young boys, attacked a family in their car. They pulled them out of the vehicle and tortured the head of the family, ignoring the cries of children.
In yet another incident, the protesters smashed windowpanes of seven shops on Kacha Jail Road and took away valuables. A shopkeeper alleged that the attackers snatched Rs15,000 from him.
Near Gharhi Shahu, a group of protesters stopped a motorcycle-rickshaw and set it on fire when the driver insisted that he was carrying a patient to a private hospital. Eyewitnesses said the driver was carrying Jahangir Mohammad to hospital after he suffered injuries in an attack.
Shahdara and Data Darbar Chowk too were said to be troubled spots where the incidents of violence were held.
City Division SP Muaz Zafar said police after a clash arrested a number of attackers of the TLP for hooliganism and lodged a case against them.
DIG Operations Waqas Nazir dispelled the impression that the police remained aloof, saying officials responded to the situation very professionally.
“The Babu Sabu Intersection was cleared on Thursday morning and remained open. Similarly, the roads leading to the airport and Ring Road, and the railway track at Kot Lakhpat were cleared,” he claimed.
Additional IG Operations Punjab Azhar Hameed Khokhar said 50 policemen were injured in clashes with the protesters. During a visit to the Mayo Hospital to inquire after the injured policemen, he said security had been heightened.
Meanwhile, IGP Amjad Javed Saleemi also chaired a meeting at the Central Police Office to take stock of the security situation.