ISLAMABAD, (Xinhua) — At least one policeman was killed and over 100 people injured in clashes between security forces and protestors here on Saturday during the police’s clear operation against religious sit-in protest, local media reported.
The police officer suffered a deadly blow to the head as protestors pelted stones at security forces during the operation, said local Dunya News, adding that at least 56 security personnel were among the injured.
Heavy contingent of police and paramilitary Rangers launched a crackdown against the protestors who have been camped at the key route linking Islamabad and Rawalpindi city, paralyzing the country’s capital for almost three weeks.
Security forces resorted to rubber-bullet after the protesters put up the resistance. The law enforcement agencies lobbed tear gas shells and used water cannons to disperse the protesters. In return, the demonstrators pelted stones on the security personnel.
As many as 370 protestors have been taken into custody by the law enforcement agencies, said police officials, adding that the helicopters and drones are being used by the authorities for aerial surveillance.
At least 10 motorcycles and two vehicles were torched by the protestors, said the reports.
The injured have been shifted to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad and Benazir Hospital Rawalpindi. Emergency has been imposed in all the hospitals in the twin cities and staff has been advised to remain on duty.
The protestors from various religious parties were protesting against a religion-related amendment in the oath taken by parliamentarians. The amendment was retracted after the strong protests from religious community, but the protestors still demand the stepdown of federal law minister.
The Islamabad High Court on Nov. 18 directed the local administration to clear the Faizabad Interchange, the main gateway between the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, within 24 hours. However, the government did not carry out the orders and initiated several rounds of talks with the protestors to disperse them peacefully, but failed each time.
The operation on Saturday came a day after the Islamabad High Court issued a show-cause notice for contempt of court to Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal over his failure to take steps ordered by the court to end the sit-in.
Crackdown against the protestors also sparked protests in other parts of the country. In southern port city of Karachi, people supporting the sit-in took to the streets and blocked several roads, causing disruption in traffic flow.
Clashes also erupted between supporters of sit-in and police after they burned tires and blocked roads and railway tracks in the country’s eastern cities of Lahore and Daska.
According to the local administration, the Faizabad Interchange is now under control of authorities as the operation is still underway.