Twin cities remain tense, Rangers take control of sit-in area
ISLAMABAD (92 News) – Twin cities remained tense on Sunday after attempts to disperse religious parties’ protests by activists ended in deadly violence as Pakistan Rangers took control of the sit-in area at Faizabad Interchange in Islamabad.
Hundreds of demonstrators were still occupying roads and intersections connecting Islamabad with neighboring Rawalpindi, with protesters posting videos.
The protestors at the moment are gathered at the sit-in site and listening to the speeches of their leaders. There is no traffic movement in the area of I-8 and Faizabad.
Peaceful conditions prevail in Islamabad and Rawalpindi following yesterday’s operation against protestors who have blocked Faizabad Intersection for the last three weeks.
The operation was carried out under the direction of Islamabad High Court which gave deadline to the Government to get the area vacated from protestors.
On the other hand, Pakistan Rangers took control of the sit-in area at Faizabad Interchange in Islamabad on Sunday morning.
Police and the Frontier Corps have been deployed at I-8 Markaz. Rangers have cordoned off the IJP Road, Expressway, Murree Road and the Faisal Avenue.
After the early morning clashes, the area settled into an uneasy stand-off. The paramilitary Rangers force – which had held back from Saturday’s confrontation – was in charge of Sunday’s operations, officers said. “We still don’t have orders to launch an operation. We will act as the government orders us,” said Rangers commander at the scene Colonel Bilal, who gave only one name. “We have surrounded the protesters from all sides. We can move in when the government orders us.”
Demonstrators have blocked a major highway, paralyzing Islamabad for weeks. Security forces had moved to clear it on Saturday (yesterday) but were met with stubborn resistance by protesters who torched vehicles and threw stones.
At least six people were killed and around 230 injured before security forces retreated on Saturday. Hospitals said most of the wounded had been released Sunday, with only around 20 still needing treatment.
An interior ministry order said the federal government had authorised the deployment of “sufficient troops” to “control law and order” in the capital until further notice.
The violent clashes spurred similar protests in major cities and towns nationwide.
Police in Karachi said that some 200 protesters had blockaded a major road in the southern port, with at least 27 injured – including 22 people with gunshot wounds – brought to hospital.
Police cleared some smaller sit-ins in the port city early Sunday, but more than a dozen protests continued across the city.
In Lahore, the capital of Punjab province and the country’s second largest city, police had closed off a main road because of the protests.
Religious groups are staging over two-week-long protest at Faizabad Interchange, the main entry point of the capital city. Despite talks between the two sides for the second consecutive day at Punjab House, a deadlock persists between the authorities and protesters over the Faizabad blockade.
Protesters at the demonstration, where young men armed with clubs are refusing to let vehicles pass and at times pelting those who come near with stones, were defiant.