PTI claims activist killed in police crackdown in Lahore

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said one of its workers was killed and several others injured as police cracked down on protestors on Wednesday, with the caretaker government imposing Section 144 in Lahore to ban public gatherings ahead of a planned PTI rally.

Meanwhile, police sources claimed at least 11 officers – including two deputy superintendents (DSPs) and a Station House Officer (SHO) – were also injured in the clashes with protestors, with one wounded policeman said to be in serious condition. Police officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, accused PTI protestors of resorting to brutal violence and taking the law into their hands.

Caretaker Chief Minister Syed Mohsin Naqvi has ordered an immediate investigation into the death of the PTI worker

Speaking about the activist's death, PTI Chairman Imran Khan accused the provincial police of brutally murdering PTI worker Ali Bilal near his residence in Zaman Park.

"Ali Bilal unarmed & our dedicated & passionate PTI worker murdered by Punjab police," the former prime minister said in a tweet.

"Shameful, this brutality on unarmed PTI workers who were coming to attend election rally. Pakistan is in the grip of murderous criminals. We will file cases against IG, CCPO & others for murder," he added.

PTI leaders Farrukh Habib, Azhar Mashwani and Mussarat Cheema reiterated the claims of violence and brutality by the Punjab police on party supporters coming to attend the rally.

"The fascist government has crossed all limits of brutality. An old worker of PTI Ali Bilal was martyred due to police brutality and violence. The imported government has started shedding the blood of [political] workers," Farrukh Habib said in a tweet.

The PTI leaders accused police of torturing its supporters who had come out to protest in the provincial capital. The party further claimed that its 'peaceful' workers were arrested in Lahore soon after reports emerged that the provincial capital had been placed under Section 144, banning public gatherings.

Shortly afterwards, PTI chairman Imran Khan called off the rally alleging that the caretaker admninistration had launched a crackdown on PTI supporters not in the interest of law and order but to avoid elections in Punjab province.

In a video address, Imran told party workers "to return home peacefully" as the government was instigating demonstrators "to resort to chaos, but we will not let them succeed".

Meanwhile, officials of the Punjab police said that several personnel were severely injured as they tried to control the law and order situation.

They said that at least 11 police officials were injured during the clashes with protestors including two DSPs and one SHO.

DSP Sabzazar, DSP Township, SHO Hanjarwal, Constables Irfan Nadeem, Bilal, Waqar, Abdul Sattar, Ali Asmat, Sikandar, and Ali Hamza were among the injured.

They further claimed that one of the injured personnel was in serious condition due to the brutal violence by PTI workers.

Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi has taken strict notice of the alleged death of the PTI worker in the clashes and ordered an immediate investigation.

Sources said that Naqvi has ordered an impartial and fact-based inquiry into the incident, adding that strict action would be taken against those found involved.

The sources claimed that the videos shown by PTI are not of today but the party's recently suspended "Jail Bharo Tehreek". They said that a deliberate lie was being spread that the deceased was in police custody.

"CCTV footage revealed that the deceased was dropped off at Services Hospital by a private vehicle," claimed one source.

They further said that the situation would become clearer after a post-mortem examination of the body and a report from the Safe City Authority.

Earlier in the day, the Punjab caretaker government said in a notification shared that it has imposed a ban on all kinds of assemblies, gatherings and rallies under "serious security threats" and fears of "disruption of traffic".

 PTI chief Imran Khan questioned under what law the caretaker government of Punjab had imposed the ban considering that "hardly 55 days [are] left" for elections to take place in the province after the dissolution of the provincial assembly.

Imran said that the ban was in "brazen contempt of the [Supreme Court's] SC".

Last week, the apex court had ordered that President Arif Alvi should announce the date of the Punjab Assembly election, while the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) governor would set the election date of the provincial assembly in consultation with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

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