Lahore [Pakistan], April 13 (ANI): At least two people were killed and several others, including policemen, injured when violence erupted in major cities of the country on Monday afternoon following the arrest of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Saad Hussain Rizvi, reported Dawn.
The TLP was protesting alleged blasphemous caricatures published in France and demanding that the French ambassador be sent home and import of goods from that country banned.
The government reached an agreement with the TLP on Nov 16 to involve the Parliament to decide the matter in three months. As the February 16 deadline neared, the government expressed its inability to implement the agreement and sought more time. The TLP agreed to delay its protest by two-and-a-half months to April 20, reported Dawn.
Rizvi on Sunday, in a video message, asked the TLP workers to be ready to launch the long march if the government failed to meet the deadline. It prompted the government to arrest the TLP chief.
After Rizvi was arrested on Wahdat Road at around 2 pm, the outraged TLP issued a call for countrywide protests.
Within the next few hours, protesters took to the streets and blocked the Grand Trunk Road on a number of points. All main cities like Lahore, Gujranwala, Islamabad and Peshawar were cut off from each other and the rest of the country, reported Dawn.
The activists held sit-ins at various points in Hyderabad and Sukkur. They blocked highways, motorways and train tracks, disrupting life in a better part of the country and causing violence as protesters clashed with police at many places.
By late evening, reports of violence started to pour in. The TLP claimed that police killed one of its workers in Faisalabad and shared pictures on social media.
By 10 pm, the blockage assumed another dimension when both the Punjab minister and secretary of specialised healthcare started warning that hospitals were running out of oxygen, reported Dawn.
"The supply is made every eight hours and all critical COVID-19 patients need fresh supplies, which cannot be made because all major arteries of the city are blocked. The crisis situation could quickly assume disaster proportion if supplies are not immediately restored," Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid told television channels. (ANI)