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After failing to cross Ravi bridge, PTI holds sit-in at Liberty

Batti Chowk remains centre of violent clashes for hours

After failing to cross the Ravi bridge of Lahore to reach Islamabad on the call of their leader Imran Khan, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers descended on the Liberty Roundabout to record their protest against what they called a police crackdown on peaceful marchers.

Clashes between police and PTI workers were reported from across the city.

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However, Batti Chowk, the second last exit point of the city, remained the centre of violent clashes between the two sides for hours where police fired tear gas shells on PTI workers to disperse them. Police were retaliated by stones pelted by PTI workers.

On Tuesday, the PTI had given a call to its workers to reach Batti Chowk from where they will leave for Islamabad.

But the administration had placed shipping containers to block roads as part of government’s efforts to stop PTI’s ‘Azadi March’.

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The situation started getting tense when a PTI caravan led by Shafqat Mehmood reached Aiwan-e-Adal. Heavy contingents of police and anti-riots force were deployed there while barricades were also placed outside Aiwan-e-Adal. However, the PTI workers pushed their way and moved ahead.

Clashes were also reported near Data Darbar.

Senior PTI leaders, including Shafqat Mehmood, Musarat Jamshed Cheema, Hammad Azhar, Dr. Yasmin Rashid, Zubair Niazi were stopped at Batti Chowk by police. Police also tried to arrest Hammad Azhar but the workers resisted and he escaped the arrest while moving forward.

Later, Hammad managed to leave from Lahore with some other party activists. He once again faced resistance near Kala Shah Kaku and Muridke and got injured when a tear gas shell hit him. At the same venue, Parks and Horticulture Authority Vice Chairman Zeeshan Rasheed was also injured.

Police also smashed the windscreen of Dr. Yasmin Rashid’s vehicle at Batti Chowk when she was trying to cross the barricades. Later, she along with Andleeb Abbas was briefly arrested.

Moreover, a group of lawyers was also arrested and police shifted them to the Badami Bagh Police station. PTI leader Jamshed Iqbal Cheema was also with them. Later, police released all of them.

Police were also seen smashing a bus carrying PTI women workers near Batti Chowk.

There was much calm in the afternoon except for a couple of incidents near the Ravi bridge.

Police were also seen retaliating when some groups of youngsters emerged from narrow streets of Shahdara and started pelting stones on them. They were pushed back with force.

Once the PTI’s Lahore leadership realized that they will not be able to reach Islamabad, it asked their supporters to gather at Liberty Chowk.

Addressing the workers there, Jamshed Cheema said, “We were peaceful but police started firing tear gas shells on us.” He added that they will reach Islamabad on the call of Imran Khan while demanding early elections in the country. He was of the view that PTI families are here to record their peaceful protest against the “brutality” of the government.

Police once again started firing tear gas shells on PTI protesters that continued till the filing of this story.



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