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PIA employees’ protest camp shifted from Islamabad airport

PIA employees’ protest camp shifted from Islamabad airport

RAWALPINDI: After the imposition of Section 144 at Benazir Bhutto International Airport, the protest camp of the PIA employees was shifted to Lalyal Chowk on Airport Road.

Before the PIA employees started their protest against the privatisation of the national flag carrier on the seventh day on Monday morning, they found three prisoner vans of the Rawalpindi police parked at the fast passenger drop lane which had been the venue of their sit-in. In addition, heavy continents of police were also deployed in and around the airport.

A makeshift tent was erected along the Airport Road at Lalyal Chowk for the protesting employees where they had to stage their sit-in which started at 10am and continued till 5pm.

There was no resistance from the protesting employees over the shifting of the venue though they condemned the government move.

A large number of police personnel along with their senior officers remained around the sit-in camp throughout the day to maintain peace.

The ban on gathering of four or more individuals under Section 144 was imposed by the city district government after District Coordination Officer (acting Commissioner) Sajid Zafar Dall, City Police Officer (CPO) Israr Ahmed Khan Abbasi, SSP operation Malik Karamat and other officials held a meeting on Sunday night.

A senior official of the city district government told Dawn that the Special Branch had submitted a report to the provincial government stating that 12 PIA union leaders were stopping the employees from joining their duties.

When contacted, the DCO said Section 144 was imposed in and around the airport because there was a threat to peace and that the protest was creating problems for passengers.

“We provided an alternative venue to the protesters and in this regard the city government and the police will facilitate them.” The DCO said the protesters were provided water and tea at the new venue. “In the notification imposing Section 144 for two days - February 8 and 9 - it is stated that no meeting would be allowed in other area except the special place provided by the city government and the police to the protesters,” he said.

The official admitted that the police had prepared a list of ‘troublemakers’ who threatened the PIA employees on their mobile phones. He said such people who stopped government employees from performing their duties would be arrested.

He said during his visit to the site of protest, he made it clear that the administration and the police would not tolerate any bid by the protesters to take law in their hands.

Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2016

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