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PML-N legislators barred from entering Punjab assembly

Source: PTI
February 26, 2009 14:38 IST
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Fresh protests broke out in Lahore on Thursday as police prevented the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz legislators from entering the Punjab assembly to hold a session after the sacking of provincial administration led by Shahbaz Sharif.

Scuffles erupted as the PML-N lawmakers clashed with the police, who did not allow them to enter the assembly building. The lawmakers repeatedly tried to force their way into the assembly but were pushed back by the policemen.

Several lawmakers, including women, were bundled into police vans when large numbers of PML-N activists broke through the barricades and entered the assembly premises. The activists pulled the lawmakers out of the vans and then sat on the steps of the assembly, shouting slogans against the Pakistan Peoples Party and President Asif Ali Zardari.

Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan and Deputy Speaker Rana Mashood Ahmad Khan told media persons that a session of the assembly had been called legally and the lawmakers would go ahead with it.

"I have the right to come to the assembly and the members have the right to go in. There can be nothing worse than stopping us," said Iqbal Khan. "No law can stop this session from going ahead. It is very shameful that the police have stopped us from going in," he added.

The Speaker and Deputy Speaker said they would hold the session outside the building if the security personnel barred them from going in. Though the police did not use batons or other measures to stop the PML-N activists and lawmakers from going into the assembly, several legislators were pushed and jostled by plainclothes personnel while being bundled into the vans.

Thirty lawmakers were detained during the protest, the police said.

The PML-N has drawn up plans for countrywide protests against the imposition of Governor's Rule in the province and the Supreme Court's order barring PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz from contesting elections and holding public office.

The apex court's order on Wednesday sparked protests across the country by PML-N activists. PML-N lawmakers participated in a session of the Punjab assembly despite the imposition of Governor's Rule.

Some legislators even spent the night within the assembly's cafeteria as they were apprehensive that security personnel would not allow them to re-enter the building if they stepped out.

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