LAHORE/RAWALPINDI - In an appalling incident of vandalism never witnessed before in country’s political history, the historic corps commander’s house in Lahore which also served as residence of the founding father of the nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was attacked by PTI supporters on Tuesday hours after Imran Khan’s arrest by the Rangers personnel in Islamabad.
The violent protesters entered the corps commander’s residence, also known as Jinnah House, ransacked the building, destroyed the furniture, damaged other fixtures and later set it on fire. Columns of smoke rising from the building could be seen from a distance. Luckily, neither the corps commander nor any member of his family were present when the incident took place.
The protesters faced no resistance either from the security forces or the provincial police which could not be seen anywhere during the attack, thereby raising questions about the security of such an important building. Before making entry into the army officer’s residence, the protesters crossed all security checkposts manned by the army and located in the Lahore Cantonment. The PTI activists also broke the security cameras installed at the checkposts while setting several vehicles on fire at Cantt Chowk.
The protesters played the songs of 1965 war, and later took over the corps commander’s house, breaking doors, smashing windowpanes and burning the furniture. One of the protesters was heard saying while vandalizing the interior of the residence, “look taxpayers money was used here”.
The Pakistan Army personnel were seen encircling the PTI protesters who were ransacking the premises of the house but they offered no resistance. In videos made viral on the social media, the protesters could be seen hitting the army vehicles with batons in anger and raising slogans against the institution.
The police, which arrived quite late at the scene, fired tear gas shells in effort to disperse protesters gathered outside corps commander house. However, despite the shelling a great number of PTI supporters managed to enter the premises and vandalised the interior of the house. Also, following the arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan, massive protests erupted in several cities across Pakistan including Lahore, Peshawar, Karachi, Quetta, Faisalabad, Gilgit, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala and others.
As the news about Imran’s arrest broke out, the PTI through its social media accounts started urging the people to take to the streets against the arrest.
In Lahore, Senator Ejaz Ahmad Chaudhry along with the workers blocked Akbar Chowk, Main Pico Road, Jail Road, Township, Main Canal Road and Faisal Town. PTI workers burnt tires and shouted slogans against the ‘imported government’ and Army.
Once the news of Imran’s arrest surfaced in the media, PTI workers equipped with batons marched towards the PTI chief’s residence in Zaman Park and surrounded it from all sides and blocked Canal Road.
Akbar Chowk was blocked from all sides. A large number of baton-carrying workers were seen on Mall Road. Shanghai Bridge Ferozepur Road was closed while a large number of lawyers protested by blocking the road at GPO Chowk.
Protesters on Mall Road started pelting stones at the police, after which the police also started baton charging the workers, while water cannons were used to disperse the workers.
Following the urest the provincial government called Rangers in city to control the deteriorating law and order situation in Lahore. The Home Department was contacted for suspension of mobile service in the city, while the district administration wrote a letter to the Additional Chief Secretary Home.
Additional Chief Secretary Home Shakeel Ahmed also issued a notification to implement Section 144, according to which any kind of protest and rally had been banned across the province.
According to the police, the violators of Section 144 and three MPOs will be arrested. With the help of the footage, strict action will be taken against the rioters and those who pelted stones on the police. Meanwhile, The police arrested more than 550 workers and supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) from various areas of Rawalpindi and Islamabad for their involvement in arson, rioting, pelting law enforcement agencies with stones, attacking government installations including GHQ during protest demonstrations against arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan here on Tuesday.
As many as 11 cops of Rawalpindi and Islamabad police including a deputy superintendent of police suffered injuries when the violent protestors of PTI pelted them with stones and bricks, according to police spokesmen. All the victims were moved to hospitals for medical treatment, they said.
“A driver and cop of Rawalpindi police came back on duty soon after receiving medical treatment in hospital,” said Inspector Sajjad Ul Hassan, the spokesman to City Police Officer Rawalpindi Syed Khalid Mehmood Hamdani.
Reportedly, scores of protestors of PTI also got injured when the police fired tear gas shells and resorted baton charge to disperse the protestors. The traders and shopkeepers in Rawalpindi and Islamabad shut down their businesses following the protests that broke out after the arrest of Imran Khan.
Also, the PTI protestors blocked all the major roads including Islamabad Expressway, Srinagar Highway, GT Road from Gujar Khan, Tarnol, Mall Road Saddar and other areas; pelting the vehicles with stones and sticks and harassing the passengers and other citizens.
The traffic police of twin cities diverted traffic rush on alternative routes,
Earlier, the district governments of Rawalpindi and Islamabad had imposed section 144 in the twin cities in order to maintain law and order.
All Pakistan Private Schools Association have announced closure of all the private educational institutions in Rawalpindi today (Wednesday) following the unrest in the city that emerged after the arrest of Imran Khan.
Dozens of supporters of PTI equipped with batons, rods and bricks attacked GHQ and broke out the main gate from Saddar side. A large number of enraged workers of PTI also pelted the gate of GHQ from RA Bazaar side with stones and bricks.
Heavy contingent of police and Elite Force commandos came into action and fired tear gas shells over the protestors in order to disperse them. Clashes also occurred between riot gear of police and the protestors of PTI at Liaquat Bagh, Committee Chowk on Murree Road and in Faizabad, Police fired tear shells at protestors who pelted police with stones. A deputy superintendent of police namely Tahir Sikandar suffered injuries during a clash with mob and was moved to hospital for medical treatment.
“We have arrested more than 500 protestors of PTI on charges of arson, rioting, attacking government installations and blocking roads,” said Inspector Sajjad Ul Hassan, the spokesman of Rawalpindi police. In Islamabad, clashes also occurred between police and violent protestors of PTI. Resultantly, 7 cops maimed and were moved to hospitals for cure, according to a police spokesman.
“The security of Islamabad has been beefed up ahead of protests that broke out after the arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan,” said IG Islamabad Dr Akbar Nasir Khan in a statement.