Unarmed policemen to man Mall Road procession

LAHORE: Due to apprehensions and likelihood of clashes between police and the protesters of opposition parties on Mall Road, only unarmed police personnel in civvies will perform duty as per the security plan of the Lahore Police.

Senior police officers remained in doldrums to finalise the security plan due to different challenges to deal with the opposition parties’ protest.

A senior police officer, on condition of anonymity, told The Express Tribune they there were many points debated during their meetings to finalise security plans.

Firstly, it is not clear that how long the protesters are going to stay on Mall Road. “If they stay for long, police will have to face issues such as the need for extra contingents, vigilance of officials deployed, meeting logistic needs, including food, shelter, transport and housing.

Secondly, there was a fear of violent clashes between police and the protesters as the participants of the protest were desperate to seek justice for the Model Town killings.

Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI) members confronted police during the Islamabad sit-in and also attacked vulnerable establishments.

A few days back, two men were killed while another was injured by police in a protest demonstration against a minor girl’s rape and murder in Kasur. In order to deal with the situation, police had decided to deploy unarmed policemen on duty.

According to sources, contingents of police in uniform and their vehicles would be on standby and kept out of sight of the public.

These contingents would respond only in case of emergency. Police officials in civvies would remain among the protesters to keep an eye on any suspicious person or activity.

At least 2,000 police officials from other districts have also been called in for support.

To protect vulnerable establishment such as Punjab Assembly, WAPDA House and Governor House, contingents of Rangers would be deployed near the site of the protest.

The third issue was of thwarting any terrorist attack on the protest rally. Last year in February, a suicide bomber targeted a protest of paramedics in which over a dozen people, including DIG Traffic Captain (retd) Ahmed Mubeen and SSP Zahid Nawaz, had lost their lives.

Meanwhile, addressing a press conference, Punjab Government Spokesman Malik Ahmad Khan said the threat of a terrorist attack could not be ruled out in case of this protest. “Ensuring foolproof security in such an unfavourable situation was an uphill task for Lahore Police,” he said.

Capital City Police Officer Amin Wains chaired a meeting at Qila Gujjar Singh Police Lines to chalk out a comprehensive security plan for the protest.

All the senior police officers were present on the occasion. Speaking on the occasion, he said at least 6,500 police officials would be deployed for security at the Mall Road procession.

He said they had engaged 2,000 police officials from other districts as well. Wains ordered police officials and even the security guards of senior police officers to remain unarmed during duty. He ordered them to take charge of their designated positions at 8:00am in the morning.

As far traffic arrangements were concerned, over 1,000 extra wardens would be deployed to ensure smooth flow of traffic. Diversions would be set on all roads leading towards Mall Road.

In the wake of opposition parties’ protest, the Punjab Higher Education Department (PHED) has closed all public education institutions on Mall Road.

Meanwhile, the PHED secretary issued a notification on Tuesday which stated that Government College University,

University of the Punjab (Old Campus) and National College of Arts would remain closed on Wednesday (today). The decision is made to avert any untoward incident and for students’ safety.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2018.

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Original news : https://tribune.com.pk/story/1610643/1-unarmed-policemen-man-mall-road-procession/