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Normalcy returns to Pindi after virtual siege


The garrison city returned to normalcy on Monday evening after the government held successful negotiations with the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).
Public transport including the metro bus service was completely restored and people reached their offices and students to the educational institutions.
The district administration had erected blockades across the main thoroughfares after the TLP had announced a long on Rawalpindi from Lahore.
The roads remained closed for almost nearly five days which caused immense inconvenience to the citizens, who remained confined to their homes.
The blockade of roads also put patients in trouble who faced difficulties in reaching health facilities.
The entry of heavy vehicles had been banned in Rawalpindi while vegetable and fruit markets also remained closed.
Traffic plied in full flow on Murree Road, Liaquat Road, Shamsabad, Rawal Road, Airport Road, Mall Road and Peshawar Road following the removal of obstructions.
The usual hustle and bustle returned to commercial centres and markets in Raja Bazaar, Nankari Bazaar, Commercial Market, China Market, Urdu Bazaar, Moti Bazaar, Bara Market, Tench Bazaar, Bank Road Bazaar, Syedpur Road and Sixth Road.
The Rawalpindi administration said that obstructions have been removed from all highways but a heavy contingent of police and containers have been kept on standby to cope with any emergency.
Additional police personnel coming to Rawalpindi from Wazirabad, Faisalabad and other areas were still on high alert while three companies of paramilitary Rangers were also on standby in Rawalpindi.
Officials said that security forces will return to their respective stations once the situation completely normalised.
The citizens have taken a sigh of relief after the obstructions were removed. They, however, said that security measures to stop protests should be taken in such a manner that it did not affect routine life.
Meanwhile, families of dozens of TLP activists arrested during a crackdown ahead of a possible protest continued to search for their detained loved ones.
The families of the activists thronged Adiala jail to meet them after the government announced to release them.
Several of them reached police stations to get the arrested workers released, however, police refused to release them unless they get official orders.
Ghulam Fareed, the father of Saeed, a student of a seminary in the Gulraiz area, claimed that personnel in plainclothes took his son away on Thursday evening and his mobile phone was also going switched off.
Ghulam Fareed said he went to the deputy commissioner office and high-ups of the police but no one met him. He said that his son had nothing to do with the proscribed organisation.
He claimed dozens of students from other seminaries have also been detained but their families did not know about their whereabouts.
He pleaded to the government to either release all the arrested people or at least let their families meet their detained loved ones.
A senior police official, requesting anonymity told The Express Tribune that more than 175 people had been booked during the crackdown.
He said all detainees will be released after official orders were received by the police.
Meanwhile, Special Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Judge Shaukat Kamal Dar granted interim bail to 21 activists arrested in connection with a possible sit-in of the banned TLP. The court has also sought records from the police about the suspects who were sent to jails.
The interim bail applications of four clerics included in the fourth schedule have also been accepted.
The same court has also adjourned the hearing of six cases of kidnapping for ransom and terrorism.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2021.

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