With the day of the PTI Azadi march here, tensions in Punjab increased on Wednesday after the footage of police shelling PTI workers on Lahore’s Bati and Bhatti chowks made rounds on TV and social media as workers tried to remove shipping containers between them and Islamabad.
It came after PTI chairman Imran Khan urged his supporters yesterday to set out their march for “true freedom” towards Islamabad just a day after the government said it would halt the march.
In reply, Imran asked the youth to remove the obstacles themselves.
Imran Khan, on the other hand, reached the wali interchange in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after leaving Peshawar by helicopter where he would address his supporters.
The video of Imran’s arrival at the Wali interchange showed PTI activists converging on the helicopter.
Other party leaders left their respective places, including Hammad Azhar, Yasmin Rashid, and some others from Lahore, and Shahid Khattak left Karak.
While the events are taking place, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah is set to speak at a press conference.
Attempts to arrest Hammad Azhar
Lahore police attempted to apprehend Hammad Azhar in Lahore. The footage showed clashes between the PTI workers and the police as they attempted to arrest Azhar, who was also present there.
After 1:50 pm, the police resumed shelling near the Aiwan-e-Adal.
Police also arrested four lawyers and moved them to a prison van, while 10 to 12 cars were reported damaged.
Earlier, the footage of police personnel charging at marchers at Lahore’s Bati chowk emerged.
Ten people were detained following confrontations.
According to PTI’s official Twitter account, the marchers were also detained in the Shahdara area. In a subsequent tweet, the party said that the shipping container placed in Shahadara had been removed.
At Niazi Chowk too, PTI workers removed barriers and advanced.
Meanwhile, another PTI caravan led by Hammad Azhar succeeded in overcoming the obstacles and crossed Lahore.
He is now on GT Road bound for Islamabad. From Lahore, Azhar said, the obstacles and containers on Bati Chowk, Ravi Bridge, and Shahdra were removed and the roads were cleared by “the public”.
Later, Azhar said Kala Shah Kaku, approximately 11 km north of Ravi Bridge, was under “heavy shelling”.
Yasmin Rashid’s car’s windscreen broken
Police broke the windscreen of Dr. Yasmin Rashid’s car when she was heading a caravan towards Batti Chowk.
Dr. Yasmin Rashid was on her way to Batti Chowk when she clashed with police deployed to prevent party workers from leaving the city.
Police personnel told her that she can’t go, but she didn’t pay attention and kept driving. At this, the police resorted to baton charge and smashed the vehicle’s windscreen.
However, she managed to go ahead.