Friday, March 19, 2010

Bloodiest Strike against Public Transport High charges in Islamabad

Friday, March 19, 2010


A young boy was seriously wounded alongside 21 others, including seven cops of the Islamabad Police, in a protest demonstration against increase in public transport fares in Bhara Kahu here on Thursday.

Students of various colleges of the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, living in Bhara Kahu and its adjoining areas, told ‘The News’ that they had planned a peaceful protest against increase in transport fares, as their parents were unable to give them Rs100 daily for transportation.

According to them, they blocked the main Murree Road to register their protest and demanded review of the fare list. When a group of protesters intercepted some public service vehicles (PSVs), their drivers and conductors started arguing with students, which resulted in a brawl.

Eyewitnesses claimed that students got provoked and enraged over the administrative mismanagement when Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) Ali Abbas and Assistant Commissioner Asim Ayub humiliated them. “The situation could have been controlled easily and angry students could have been cooled down by better management, but the attitude of the ADC (G) worsened the situation,” witnesses said.

The angry protesters started pelting stones on wagons and buses, and broke the windowpanes of dozens of public service vehicles, witnesses told ‘The News.’ They added that students stopped a number of public service vehicles and snatched keys from their drivers.

The local police called extra force to tackle the situation and tried to clear the road, but angry students started pelting stones on them. Consequently police resorted to baton-charge and hurled tear gas on the orders of the ADC (G), which later culminated in firing.

Resultantly, 21-year-old Mehfeez, son of Abdur Rashid, a first year student of the Islamabad College, Shamsabad, received a bullet in his chest. He was shifted to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) in critical condition. Moreover, Shahzad Town Circle SDP Farhat Kazmi was wounded along with seven police personnel during stone-pelting.

The protest, which started at about 12:30 p.m., continued till late evening. Police arrested dozens of protesters but most of them were released on the orders of the deputy commissioner. Traffic between Murree-Azad Kashmir and Rawalpindi-Islamabad remained choked for more than six hours. However, police tried to manage traffic by diverting it to different link roads.

Following orders from Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, Interior Minister Rehman Malik has ordered an inquiry into the incident and appointed the deputy commissioner to submit a report within 72 hours.

Deputy Commissioner (Islamabad) Aamer Ali Ahmad, when contacted by ‘The News,’ said that the administrative officers would be punished according to the law if they were found guilty of provoking students. He said that he would complete the inquiry within two days, adding that the statements of the ADC (G) and AC as well as witnesses claiming the mismanagement of the administration would be recorded to ascertain the facts.

PIMS spokesman Dr. Waseem Khawaja, when contacted by ‘The News,’ said Mehfeez, the wounded student, sustained a bullet injury, but now he was stable and out of danger.

Meanwhile, Leader of the House in the Senate Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari condemned the incident and asked the Islamabad chief commissioner to conduct an inquiry into the incident. The chief commissioner assured Bokhari that the people responsible for the situation would be dealt with sternly.

The situation remained tense till late evening and the protesting groups continued attacking police with stones from different sides. The scattered youth blocked Murree Road at different points, but police remained silent.

Deputy Commissioner (Islamabad) Aamer Ali Ahmad said that despite having force, they would not use it. He said that all issues have been settled, but some people were creating law and order situation. He said that the chief commissioner has cancelled the fare list and ordered its revision as per public wishes.

Meanwhile, negotiations between the deputy commissioner and the agitating students continued till filing of this report.

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