PTI protests spread as police launch operation to arrest Imran Khan

Islamabad Police DIG among several wounded in clashes n Police use water cannon, fire tear gas shells, detain many protesters n Imran’s supporters pelted police with stones during hours-long fight n PTI workers block major roads in big cities on Imran’s call
n Imran moves IHC against warrants in Toshakhana case.

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD/KARACHI    -    Dozens of people were wound­ed during violent clashes be­tween police and Pakistan Teh­reek-e-Insaf (PTI) protesters outside the residence of former prime minister Imran Khan in Lahore’s Zaman Park as the po­lice tried to arrest PTI chairman on Tuesday. 

Police sources claimed that DIG Operation Islamabad Shahzad Bukhari and five other policemen of the force were in­jured in clashes with PTI protes­tors who pelted the police with stones. The police used water cannon, fired tear gas shells and arrested several Imran’s sup­porters amid clashes. 

According to a police spokes­man, stones were pelted from roof of the house of Imran Khan but policemen showed maxi­mum patience. SP Rana Tahir Hussain replaced the DIG Opera­tions while SSP (Operations) La­hore Shoaib Ashraf and SP Sar­faraz Virk are also present on the spot, the Islamabad police spokesman added.

Protests broke out in different parts of the country on the call of Chairman Pakistan Teh­reek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan after party workers clashed with the police at Zaman Park in La­hore. The PTI workers started protests in Islamabad, Rawalpin­di, Karachi, and Peshawar among other cities after former prime minister Khan through a video message asked his followers to “come out” following Islamabad police reached his Zaman Park residence to arrest him.

The Zaman Park neighbor­hood of Lahore turned into a battlefield as the police and the PTI activists engaged in a pitched battle when the federal and Punjab police reached there on Tuesday afternoon to arrest the party chief Imran Khan in a Toshakhana case. 

Armed with clubs and stones, the relentless PTI workers gave a real tough time to the police as they braved the heavy shell­ing, baton charge and attack by the water cannon. They put up a strong resistance against the police action and did not let the law enforcers to get close to the residence of their leader.

Scores of party activists and po­licemen sustained injuries in the clashes which continued from 2:00pm till late at night. The in­jured policemen were shifted to nearby hospitals for treatment. Though the police had cordoned off all the roads leading to Zaman park residence of Imran Khan, the number of PTI workers kept rising as more and more activ­ists managed to reach the spot from different parts of the city. They pelted stones at the police and kept it engaged at different points around the Zaman Park. The connecting point of The Mall and Canal Road and Dha­rampura locality were the main areas where the most intensive skirmishes were witnessed be­tween the police and the PTI supporters. 

The hide and seek between the police and PTI workers con­tinued till late at night. This was the second attempt by Islam­abad police to arrest the PTI chief with the assistance of La­hore police. 

Capital Police arrived at Khan’s residence with a heavy contingent of Punjab Police to arrest Imran Khan at around 2 pm. Islamabad Police Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Opera­tions Shahzad Bukhari spoke to media representatives and ex­plained that action was being taken against the Imran Khan in Toshakhana case. As soon as the police arrived, the PTI workers gathered outside Imran Khan’s residence in good number and camped at the entrance as they raised slogans against the police and the government .

With the help of an armoured vehicle, the police gradually moved towards Imran Khan’s residence and during this at­tempt it faced strong resistance by the PTI workers resulting in a physical altercation. 

A helicopter was also seen making round above Zaman Park for surveillance purpos­es of the problematic area, as a part of the operation of the law enforcement agencies. Ever since the attempts to arrest Im­ran Khan, for the first time, po­lice managed to cross the se­curity barrier of Zaman Park and reached gate number 1 of the residence. But they were pushed back as a result of se­vere resistance put by the PTI workers. Multiple shells were also fired directly at Imran’s residence which landed inside the premises and on the roof of Imran Khan’s house. The PTI released a video on Twitter in which tear gas shells could seen falling inside Imran Khan’s res­idence. As the situation got out control, a contingent of Rang­ers also arrived outside Zaman Park in the evening.

The Islamabad Police came into action after the District and Sessions Court of Islamabad is­sued non-bailable warrant of Imran Kahn due to his continu­ous absence in the court in the Tosha Khana case.

The court had directed the po­lice to produce Imran Khan in the court on March 18.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Teh­reek-e-Insaf leader Hassan Ni­azi said that they will receive the warrant and challenge it in the High Court. “We do not have faith in the police”, he said, add­ing that workers believe that police have come with a con­spiracy to kill Imran Khan. 

Also, PTI leader Farrukh Habib said that there was a threat to Imran Khan’s life, add­ing he alleged that the situa­tions were being created where Khan’s security will be compro­mised. Looking at the deterio­rating situation, Shah Mehmood Qureshi stepped of Zaman Park along with other party leaders and said: “I have come out to ask the police not to endanger the lives of people here unnec­essarily; we are peaceful peo­ple and we are not taking the law into our hands”. 

It may be recalled here that on March 5th earlier this month, the Islamabad police came to Zaman Park to arrest Imran Khan. The local court of Islamabad had is­sued a non-bailable arrest war­rant against Imran Khan for his continued absence in the To­sha Khana case hearing. The po­lice, however, went back emp­ty-handed without arresting the PTI chief although the Islamabad police chief had said earlier that they will not go back without ar­resting Imran Khan. On Mon­day the District and Sessions Court Islamabad rejected Imran Khan’s plea for exemption from attendance in the Tosha Khana case and reinstated his non-bail­able arrest warrant. The court is­sued the orders to arrest Imran Khan and ordered to produce him before court on March 18.

Meanwhile, PTI leadership urged the party office-bearers and workers to come out across the country in protest against the government’s plan to detain PTI chief. They said that work­ers should show solidarity with the PTI chairman who had been fighting a war of the future gen­eration. PTI Secretary Gener­al Asad Umar said that after the past record of Toshakhana came to limelight, trying Imran Khan in the same case was not only a joke in the country, but it would also make Pakistan a laughing stock in the world.

He said that Islamabad High Court (IHC) would take up their petition against the ongoing Zaman Park operation today and there was no justification for continuing it.

PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry urged that the people should come onto the streets to record a peaceful pro­test. He said that PTI organiza­tions should play a role in mak­ing these protests peaceful and announce the place.

“It seems entire Punjab police is turning into a force for ter­rorism against PTI leadership and workers because they are so petrified of the people’s sup­port Imran Khan commands,” said PTI Senior Vice President Dr. Shireen Mazari while lashing out at both federal and Punjab governments.

Caretaker Chief Minister Pun­jab Mohsin Naqvi visited Ser­vices Hospital here on Tues­day to inquire after injured DIG Operations Islamabad Shahzad Bukhari and other po­licemen who were injured in the stone-pelting by members of a political party. He inquired about the well-being of DIG Op­erations Shahzad Bukhari and other policemen and directed the hospital administration for the treatment of the DIG and other policemen. The Chief Min­ister prayed for the speedy re­covery of DIG Shahzad Bukhari and other policemen. While ap­preciating the dedication of DIG Shahzad Bukhari and other po­licemen to their duty, the Chief Minister said that they have set a great example of dedica­tion. Mohsin Naqvi said that he was proud of them. He said that their approach was professional to ensure the supremacy of the law. The elements who pelted stones at the police force would be brought to justice, he add­ed. Provincial Minister Dr Javed Akram was also present.


The Islamabad Capital Ter­ritory (ICT) Police on Tuesday said legal action would be tak­en against those who were ob­structing the implementation of the court orders regarding the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-In­saf Chairman Imran Khan in the Toshakhana case.

An ICT Police team had been in Lahore since yesterday to comply with the court orders and the Punjab Police were ex­tending their support to it, an Islamabad Police spokesperson said. He said the Deputy Inspec­tor General (Operations) and the Senior Superintendent of Police were safe. The Police in Rawalpindi on Tuesday cleared all traffic routes of the city from the protestors of a political par­ty who had choked some thor­oughfares and dispersed them after necessary action. 

According to the Rawalpindi Police spokesperson, the work­ers pelted stones at the police, whereas the police dispersed the protestors by baton charge and tear gas shelling.

He added that a political par­ty’s workers staged a protest at Liaquat Bagh whereas there was currently no protest at there.

“Murree Road is open from both sides and traffic is flowing. Moreover, the workers gathered at Committee Chowk were also dispersed. The workers who had gathered in Taxila were also dis­persed by the police,” the Police spokesperson said. He said traf­fic was kept flowing by restricting the workers gathered at Kachhari Chowk to the roadside. All high­ways in the city were open.

On the occasion, City Po­lice Officer (CPO) Syed Khalid Mehmood Hamdani said no one would be allowed to take the law into their hands or block highways, adding the citizens were requested to cooperate with the police.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt