October 15th, 2020
Opposition parties have claimed that scores of party workers have been arrested ahead of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) first power show in Gujranwala on October 16.
On the other hand, the Punjab government has granted permission for the holding of PDM rally at Gujranwala’s Jinnah Stadium. A notification issued by Gujranwala Deputy Commissioner Sohail Ashraf, dated Oct 15, said no participant would be allowed to enter the site of the rally without a mask and everyone would be seated at a distance of three to six feet from each other.
The notification also said no person belonging to a proscribed organization, or who has been convicted, would be allowed to participate in the rally or address the public.
According to a tweet by Maryam Nawaz, PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif will address the public gathering via video link from London. Sharif has been convicted in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia Mills references and declared a proclaimed offender by the Islamabad High Court.
PML-N’s Maryam Nawaz, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and JUI-F’s Maulana Fazlur Rehman will participate in the rally.
Maryam will be leading her party caravan scheduled to reach Gujranwala. However, PML-N leaders say the placing of containers in Raiwind forced the party to revisit its strategy regarding her departure.
On the other hand, PDM president Maulana Fazlur Rehman will leave for Gujranwala in a rally from Jamia Ashrafia seminary Ferozepur Road on Friday, October 16.
Bilawal Bhutto is expected to join the rally in Gujranwala from Lala Musa. A rally of PPP workers, headed by Qamar Zaman Kaira, was stopped near Sambrial on the way to greet Bilawal Bhutto at Sialkot airport, according to party leaders.
Interestingly, the government booked over 400 workers of opposition parties, mainly the PML-N, in different parts of Punjab for violating COVID standard operating procedures (SOPs). The PML-N has alleged that Punjab police also took scores of PDM workers into custody from Lahore and other districts to sabotage the Gujranwala rally.
In Gujranwala’s Naushera Virkan police registered a first information report (FIR) against PML-N leaders Mudassar Qayyum Nahra, Mazhar Qayyum Nahra, Gulzar Ahmed, Tariq Cheema, Dr Munir Ahmed and 250 others under sections 269 and 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) for holding a public gathering without observing Covid-19 SOPs.
In Mandi Bahauddin, police booked PML-N district president Mushahid Raza, UC chairman Zulqurnain Zaman and 170 others under sections 188 and 269 of the PPC for holding a corner meeting, ignoring the Corona SOPs.
In Phalia, Bhagat police raided the residence of PPP district president and ex MPA Asif Basheer Bhagat and arrested his two servants just before the arrival of the party workers to attend a convention.
In Lahore, the PML-N said, the police arrested its local body representative Qari Hanif from Nishat Colony. In raids at the residences of Qarif Hanif and Salim Rahmat police also arrested their two employees. Police also raided the residence of former councilor M Tariq in Lohari Gate. In Wazirabad, police booked Punjab PPP vice-president and former MPA Ijaz Ahmed Samman for breaching the government’s Covid-19 rules by holding a public gathering at his residence.
In Gujrat, police impounded chairs placed at the venues of two different workers’ conventions being hosted by PML N leaders Haji Aurangzaib Butt and ex MPA Haji Nasir Mehmood. These conventions were to be addressed by senior party leaders Awais Leghari and Attaullah Tarrar. The PML-N lawyer’s wing has been directed to prepare petitions against the FIRs and arrest of the workers.
In the Sialkot district, dozens of PML-N workers were picked in different raids, while the PML-N Daska office on Nisbat Road was sealed.
The government has also strictly prohibited “anti-state/objectionable/offensive slogans” at the event in addition to speeches against constitutional offices, armed forces, and the judiciary. “In case of violation of any of the terms and conditions, the organizers shall be liable to face legal proceedings and NOC/permission shall be liable to be canceled immediately,” the notice read.