LAHORE – A showdown looks imminent between the Punjab government and PAT chief, following the registration of First Information Report (FIR) against Dr Tahirul Qadri and deployment of heavy contingents of police in Model Town while all roads leading to Minhajul Quran secretariat were sealed.
Police also launched a crackdown against Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) workers and detained more than 150 from Faislabad, Sahiwal, Vehari, Mandi Bahauddin, Sialkot and Sheikhupura. According to police, a case under MPO 16 has been registered against the arrested people. According to sources, PAT workers are moving to safer places to avoid arrest.
Meanwhile, commuters faced problems after police sealed all the roads connecting to Faisal Town and Garden Town through Akbar Chowk, Barkat Market and Jinnah hospital. Hundreds of PAT workers and supporters of party chief Dr Tahirul Qadri gathered on Thursday in Lahore's Model Town in the area surrounding the party chief's residence.
Over 300 of these are Qadri's female supporters seated in tents outside the PAT chief's residence. Moreover, members of the party's youth wing and Tehreek Minhajul Quran armed with clubs, holding protective shields and wearing helmets were roaming the streets around the secretariat. Consequently, streets in the area also stood blocked.
The development comes hours after the police booked Qadri in a case for allegedly inciting people to rise against the government, provoking his followers to resort to violence and inciting them to confront police through his fiery speeches.
Police had also begun a crackdown on PAT leaders and activists in some parts of Punjab in the run-up to the Youm-i-Shuhada slated for Aug 10 arresting a few of them. The party however said the government had launched a full-scale crackdown on its workers across Punjab and had made several arrests.
PAT is alleging that more than 100 of its activists were arrested late on Wednesday night from various cities of Punjab. Meanwhile, Qadri has said that if the government crackdown against his supporters continued, 'Youm-i-Shuhada' would turn into 'Youm-i-Inqilaab'. "The country would become a battleground for revolution if I am arrested, "he said in response to a question.
PAT Central Information Secretary Qazi Faiz said it seemed that the government wanted a repeat of the Model Town incident in which a number of Qadri's supporters were killed. He said Qadri was present at his residence and PAT workers were prepared to respond to any attempt to arrest him.
On the other hand heavy contingents of police have cordoned off Minhajul Quran Secretariat (MQS) in Model Town.