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Rawalpindi residents brace for more road blockades, mobility restrictions

By Mohammad Asghar 2022-11-19
RAWALPINDI: The fundamental right of free movement in Rawalpindi and Islamabad will virtually be suspended as Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is likely to stage a massive sit-in protest at Shamsabad, a few hundred metres from the border of the federal capital territory, against the attempted murder of party leader Imran Khan af ter the long march arrives here.

Freedom of movement for residents is expected to be restricted due to the blockade of the main Murree Road and its arteries as the PTI`s long marchhas planned a massive gathering of its supporters from all over the country, especially from Punjab, KP and AJK, apparently to force their entry into the federal capital.

The district administration and police are expected to play the same role which they did during last week`s sit-ins in various parts of the province and blockade of motorways, GT Road, Murree Road, Peshawar Road, old Airport Road and many other entries.

Even educational institutions were closed for three days in Rawalpindi due to the blockade of roads as parents were not willing to send their children to schools and colleges.

In normal circumstances, whenever even a vendor blocks the flow of traf fic the police promptly move and take legal action against them. But citizens` fundamental right of free movement in Rawalpindi remained suspended for about one week and the police did not move until the Lahore High Court (LHC)`s Rawalpindi bench summoned the deputy commissioner and the citypolice officer (CPO) on November 11, 2022, to explain why the citizens` fundamental rights were suspended by protesters.

Apparently to justify their negligence before the court and to hush up the issue, the police registered two separate FIRs one with Naseerabad police and the other with Taxila police against `unidentified people` and did not launch an investigation.

As electronic and print media reports and eyewitness counts clearly showed the PTI leaders leading the sitins in Taxila, Shamsabad, Naseerabad and other entry points the police kept their eyes closed and did not mention the name of even the political party, its supporters and leaders some of whom were watching a T20 cricket match between Pakistan and New Zealand on the blocked IJP Road.

Punjab Law Minister Mohammad Basharat Raja, who was leading the PTI supporters` sit-in on IJP Road at Pirwadhai Mor said in a tweet: `Today is the third day of sit-in at the entry &exit points of Islamabad. I am enjoying#PakvsNzcricket match at IJP road along with@ PTIofficialworkers.

On the old Airport Road, the public was not allowed to pass by the protesters carrying batons and sticks as the road had been blocked near Gulzar-iQuaid.

However, for PTI leader and President Dr Arif Alvi, the party supporters opened one track of the road to allow his motorcade to move to the Nur Khan Airbase. The road was blocked again for public after the passage of the VVIP convoy.

Pindi`s business artery, Murree Road, was blocked near Iqbal Park at Shamsabad where PTI leaders had to f ace the anger of the public. The situation was worse on Jhelum Road near Soan Bridge where a large number of oil tankers and trucks carrying goods remained stuck.

The district police, who were protecting the PTI supporters at each barricade by erecting their camps, couldsee all that was going on, but they were unwilling to remove a handful of protesters to clearthe road.

Legal experts say the refusal to register a case is out of question in cognizable or non-cognizable cases.

Registration of FIR Under the law, police officer has to record an FIR mandatorily of a cognizable case under section 154 of Criminal Procedure Code, but where it is a non-cognizable case the substance of such information is to be entered in the relevant register. However, in each case, refusal to register an FIR is out of question.

What the police have done to satisfy the LHC judge was the registration of only two FIRs one with the Naseerabad police on November 15 and the other with Taxila police on November 15 under section 341 of the PPC, five days after the blockades.

In both the FIRs, only 50 to 60 unidentified people were mentioned,whereas none of the PTI supporters and leaders was named.

Questions arise here that why the PTI leaders who were leading the protesters in Taxila and Naseerabad were not identified in the FIRs which were lodged after the LHC Rawalpindi judge summoned the DC and CPO to explain why the people`s right of free movement was par alyse d.

Why the FIRs of the blockade at the old Airport Road, Shamsabad, Jhelum Road near Lahore High Court Rawalpindi bench and other parts of the city were not registered when police had the legal authority to register a case by themselves.

Due to non-implementation of law by the district administration and police, traders and business community and students were among those who suffered the most.

Residents of the city are expecting to suffer again as the PTI`s long march is expected to reach Rawalpindi and block Jhelum Road, Murree Road and other main roads.