Two killed as Pak cleric`s supporters clash with police

Two people were killed and dozens injured today when clashes erupted between police and supporters of influential cleric Tahirul Qadri in the city and other parts of Pakistan`s Punjab province.

PTI| Updated: Aug 09, 2014, 01:48 AM IST

Two people were killed and dozens injured today when clashes erupted between police and supporters of influential cleric Tahirul Qadri in the city and other parts of Pakistan`s Punjab province.

The police have so far reportedly arrested over 5,000 activists of Qadri`s Pakistan Awami Tahreek party (PAT) from across the province.

Two PAT workers were killed in Bhakkar district, some 400 kilometres from Lahore, in clashes when the police stopped a caravan of 70 buses of party workers.

"Police first resorted to tear gas and baton to disperse our party workers then it opened fire on them, leaving two dead and six seriously injured," PAT spokesman Qazi Faiz said.

Qadri`s supporters also set a police station on fire in Qauidabad in Khushab district, some 300 kms from Lahore.

They also clashed with police in Dipalpur in Okara district, 200 kms from here, that left over a dozen injured.

The police managed to arrest 300 protesters after the clash in Okara.

In Lahore, the clashes erupted when PAT?workers tried to remove barricades from the roads leading to Qadri`s residence.

The workers managed to remove one barricade. However, the police fired tear gas and used batons to disperse them. In the clashes, 10 workers and seven policemen suffered injuries.

Senior Superintendent Police Haider Ashraf said the barricades would not be removed at any cost.

"We have called in an additional force to deal with the PAT workers," he said.

The police have placed 38 containers as barricades on Lahore roads leading to the headquarters Qadri.

"We have standing orders not to allow anyone to reach Qadri`s place," Ashraf said.

The police have so far arrested 1,300 workers of Qadri`s Pakistan Awami Tahreek (PAT) from different parts of the Punjab province.

Meanwhile, Punjab Law Minister Rana Mashhood said that the government had decided to arrest Qadri.

A case has already been registered against Qadri for provoking people to resort to violence against the state and police.

"Qadri will be tried in a court of law for committing treason and soon he will be behind bars," Mashhood said, adding the police had started arresting "terrorist" associates of Qadri.

On the other hand, Qadri accused the PML-N government of blocking the supply of food and water.

"The Sharifs are fascist rulers and worse than a dictator.

I appeal to my supporters to come out of their houses and reach here by removing all blockades," he said.

Eight people were killed and scores injured in violent clashes between supporters of Qadri and police on June 17.

Canada-based Qadri soon returned to Pakistan and is now leading a movement to oust the Nawaz Sharif government.