LAHORE - Following the armed clash between political workers of PTI and PML-N at an election office in Lahore’s PP-167 constituency yesterday, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) came into action ordering a “detailed inquiry” into the incident that had left several injured.

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja directed Inspector General Police Punjab to conduct an impartial inquiry of the firing incident in PP-167 by-election (Lahore), and to take strict action against all those responsible for the violence and submit a report to the Election Commission.

The CEC directed the IGP to ensure the arrest of culprits without giving any due thought about culprits’ political affiliation. He also directed the IG Punjab to sternly check the gun culture, violence and subversive elements, especially during the electioneering. He also directed Secretary ECP Omar Hameed Khan to contact IG Punjab and ensure implementation of his orders.

Later, the Johar Town police, on behalf of the state, registered an FIR against unidentified persons under sections 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 324 (attempt to commit murder) and 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of Rs50) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The complaint, filed by Assistant Sub Inspector Muhammad Amin, stated that the police received a complaint late Saturday night regarding a clash between PTI and PML-N workers but the rioters managed to escape before the police teams reached there.

During the investigation, it added, the police found 12 bullet casings of 9MM pistols and 1 casing of Kalashnikov.

Meanwhile, in written instructions to the Lahore Capital City Police Officer, the electoral body’s district monitoring officer Nabeel Ahmed said that political affiliations would not be taken into account during the investigation process, asserting that all police officials should be directed to ensure the implementation of the electoral code of conduct.

PTI leader Shahbaz Gill claimed that Chohan and his “goons” attacked the election office of the party’s candidate located at Allah Hoo Chowk. He alleged that they also injured the candidate’s son Adil before fleeing from the scene.

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“These turncoats are not in control of their senses. Faced with fear, they have resorted to such despicable tactics,” he said.

Chohan was among 25 Punjab Assembly PTI dissident lawmakers that were de-seated by the ECP for voting for Hamza Shehbaz in the Punjab chief minister’s election in April. Chohan is the likely PML-N candidate for the PP-167 constituency as by-polls for 20 of the 25 seats will be held on July 17. The remaining five are reserved seats.

Chohan was elected as an MPA on a PTI ticket in 2018 in the same constituency.

Meanwhile, at a press conference, Chohan claimed that more than 100 PTI workers attacked him with sticks and weapons late Saturday night.

“I was on my way back home at 3am when some vehicles blocked my way near the Allah Hoo Chowk,” he said. “Shabbir Gujjar (PTI’s candidate) and his accomplices misbehaved with me and threatened to take my life. They also fired shots at my car with modern weapons.”

“I escaped narrowly from there with burst tyres,” he added.

He further claimed that PTI knew PML-N would win from the PP-167 constituency. “They are using such tactics because they know they will lose,” he claimed, adding that PTI workers had “conducted a recce of the route I had to take back home”.

Chohan also called on the Punjab police, security agencies and top leadership of the province to provide him security.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Lahore police said in a statement that officials had begun the process of identifying and searching for the shooter. “No one is allowed to take the law into their own hands,” he said.

He went on to say that strict action would be taken against the suspect who open fire and spread panic, adding that officials had also obtained CCTV footage of the incident.

Law and order will be ensured during the campaign for the by-polls, the official said, adding that the electoral code of conduct would be enforced. The spokesman reiterated that no one was above the law and that strict action would be taken against violators.

He concluded the statement by saying that the Lahore DIG Operations had constituted a committee headed by Saddar SP.