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8 dead, 85 injured in clash between Qadri supporters, police in Lahore

LAHORE: Eight people – including two women – were killed, while 85 others sustained injuries in a clash between the supporters of Dr Tahirul Qadri and the police in Lahore, Express News reported on Tuesday.

The clash started last night when members of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) tried to stop the police from removing barriers outside their leader’s house in Model Town Colony and party secretariat. Police baton-charged and shelled the demonstrators for not letting them do their job.

Around 53 protesters were also arrested for creating trouble.

The injured, 22 of whom are stated to be in critical condition, were shifted to a hospital for medical treatment. According to hospital sources, the injured also include 17 police personnel.

FIR will be registered against PM, CM: Qadri

PAT chief Qadri lashed out at the Punjab government on Tuesday, saying a case would be registered against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for the “murder” of his supporters.

Qadri also held PML-N leaders Chaudhry Nisar, Rana Sanaullah, Saad Rafique and Abid Sher Ali responsible for the clash.

The PAT chief, a citizen of Canada, denounced the police’s operation outside his residence in Lahore and termed it “state terrorism.”

He also criticized CM Punjab for denying responsibility for the killings of his party workers. He said that all those who were killed would receive ‘eye-for-an-eye’ justice (Qisas).

Qadri stated that the police took action, on the orders of the government, because of his support for the army during the ongoing operation in North Waziristan.

“Anyone who stands in support of the army is seen by the government as their biggest enemy,” he said, adding that the government has been against the military since the 90s.

Qadri claimed that the government was never in favour of the army operation in North Waziristan and had to approve it since they had no choice.

He alleged that the government was, in fact, trying to regroup terrorists and facilitate them in the name of dialogue.

The PAT chief also said that the other reason for today’s police action was to threaten him and his party, as he is meant to arrive in Pakistan within the next few days.

He also said that never had he witnessed anything like this in the 33 years of his political career.

Barriers removed

The police, today, managed to remove all the barriers despite intense opposition, while anti-encroachment officials are busy clearing the area and removing the rubble. Police personnel are present in the locality to monitor the work and ensure protesters are kept under control.

The PAT protesters later moved to the hospital where their fellow supporters were admitted for medical assistance.

Govt’s stance

Taking notice of the incident, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif called an emergency meeting to discuss the situation.

Sources told Express News that the chief minister was not taken into confidence before police started the operation to remove barriers outside Qadri’s house and party secretariat.

As per previous court orders, blocking streets for security reasons is not allowed and police should remove such blockages.

District Minister Rana Mashoud said the road blockages outside Qadri’s house were being removed on complaints filed by the residents of Model Town Colony.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, while speaking to the media in Lahore, said that the barriers outside Qadri’s house and party secretariat were removed after government received information from intelligence agencies about the presence of armed men in the area.

He added that the private militia had made it a no go area and no one in Punjab is allowed to do so.

While speaking inside the Punjab Assembly, where the opposition members protested against the use of force, Sanullah claimed the police action was inevitable as they were reports of militiamen taking oath for working on an unidentified operation.

The law minister further said the provincial government will carry out a judicial inquiry into the incident and those found guilty of unlawful actions will be punished.

Informing the assembly about cases being filed against a few senior PAT leaders for their involvement in the clash with the police, Sanaullah claimed that police were fired at from inside the PAT secretariat.

Qadri protests

Responding to the use of force against his party workers,  Qadri said he protests police brutality against the “peaceful” demonstrators.

He further accused the government of using this issue to divert attention from the ongoing operation in North Wazirisitan.

While speaking to Express News, Qadri said the police action was unjustifiable as the barriers were placed on government’s order many years ago.

Accusing police of harassing PAT supporters prior to his visit to Pakistan, Qadri stressed he will arrive in the country as scheduled.

The PAT leader also claimed the total number of casualties was higher than the official figure.

Confirming the death toll, Secretary General PAT Khurram Nawaz Gandapur said two women and a child were among the deceased. He further claimed the police operation was not to remove the barriers but to threaten and harass PAT supporters.

Demonstrations

PAT supporters staged protests in different parts of the country including Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Karachi and other cities.

Protesters blocked roads in the twin cities, affecting the flow of traffic. A human chain was formed in Gujranwala while party members also demonstrated in Sialkot, Hafizabad and Multan.

Traders association in Lahore also announced a strike in the city. Economic activity will be suspended tomorrow in protest against the deaths.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Awami Muslim League, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Muslim League – Quaid condemned the attack, while MQM also announced a day of mourning against the incident

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