Azadi March participants undeterred by rain

Clockwise from top: The sit-in participants take shelter under a plastic sheet, a girl sells boiled eggs while the MCI workers clear garbage from the protest site on Wednesday. — White Star

ISLAMABAD: Mohizur Rehman, a 35-year-old participant of the Azadi March from Multan, was not deterred by the rainfall and harsh weather that hit the capital on Wednesday, where protesters have been camped out for nearly a week.

Mr Rehman said the protesters faced difficulty when it began raining but stayed where they were. “Later on, it was announced from the stage that people who are facing a shortage of tents should move to the underground metro stations, so we went there,” he said.

A large number of the protesters have waiting out the weather in the underground station, along with their luggage and cooking items.

Abdul Razaq Abro from Larkana said that people would face hardship when they decide to play their role against oppression.

CDA workers visited protest site, drained water and removed garbage, Amer Ali Ahmed says

“The rain is a blessing for us, so it cannot discourage us. We are motivated and committed to forcing the selected prime minister to resign as he was elected after rigged elections,” he said.

The fall in temperatures also made things difficult for the protesters, who have been camped out on Kashmir Highway in H-9 and G-9 since last Thursday.

Many of the protesters also stayed in tents at the protest venue. The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl provided tents to the protesters, but could not meet the requirement.

“Our party has provided a large numbers of tents, but practically it is difficult for the party to provide tents to every group of protesters, so we bought this plastic sheet from Karachi Company,” said Khalilur-Rehman, who was taking shelter from the rain alongside fellow protesters under the sheet.

Dawn observed that there were fewer people out on the highway because of the rain and the chilly atmosphere, although protesters remained present in their tents.

A doctor from Pims examines a protester at the medical camp set up on Kashmir Highway in Islamabad on Wednesday. — Photo by Mohammad Asim

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman addressed protesters almost an hour earlier than usual, seemingly because of the weather, and praised the commitment of his party’s workers.

The Met Office recorded 20mm of rainfall in the Zero Point area, which is near the protest site. The rain also prompted Prime Minister Imran Khan to take notice of the situation. Mr Khan said on Twitter said he had directed the chairman of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to visit the venue “to assess what relief and assistance can be provided to the dharna participants with the onset of rain and changing weather conditions.”

CDA Chairman Amer Ali Ahmed told Dawn: “The major issue we pointed out was water accumulation.”

He said the water drain was opened and channels were made to drain the water. A medical camp was established and garbage was removed, he added.

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