Imran injured in fall at Lahore rally
LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan suffered head and back injuries when he fell from a forklift that was carrying him up on the dais to address a public meeting in Gulberg’s Ghalib Market — the first of eight public meetings he had scheduled in Lahore.
Imran Khan’s personal bodyguards lost balance and pulled him down along with themselves, while the lift was rising. His head hit the iron roof of the lifter and he fell on the ground bleeding profusely. A guard also fell on him.
A PTI worker, Lala Amir, said he was standing on the ground and Imran Khan fell on him bleeding. His clothes were bloodstained.
Mr Khan was immediately taken to a private hospital at Liberty Market. After first-aid, he was moved to the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital (SKMCH) with neck collar. His condition is stated to be stable. He suffered head and back injuries and was in the ICU complaining about severe back pain. He had six stitches on the head.
Dr Mohammad Shafique, who provided the first-aid, told Dawn that Mr Khan had suffered four injuries in the head, including one profound wound in the middle.
Late in the night, Imran Khan spoke to a TV channel and said that he had done his bit and now it was up to the nation to rise and perform their duty to make a “New Pakistan”. He urged people that they should not consider only the candidates but vote for the party. “The last five years were hard for people to survive and the next five years will be intolerable if people did not vote for a change,” he stressed.
SKMCH Chief Executive Officer Dr Faisal Sultan told newsmen that Mr Khan was feeling pain due to a fracture and would be kept in the hospital for care and treatment. Doctors also conducted his CT scan and necessary tests and the report mentioned a minor injury in his backbone.
Dr Faisal said the condition of Mr Khan was quite stable, he had a minor problem in the backbone and a team of doctors would again examine him on Wednesday.
A staff member of the hospital told Dawn that the doctors had advised Mr Khan to take a complete rest for three weeks.
Dr Yasmin Rashid, PTI’s candidate for NA-120, said there was compression in his backbone but no neurological deficit. Mr Khan has been immobilised for 24 hours to 48 hours. She said his injury was a serious blow to the party’s election campaign.
The unfortunate incident took place when PTI workers and Mr Khan’s two bodyguards climbed on the forklift which had been raised with six wooden planks. As soon as Mr Khan stepped on the wooden planks, the forklift driver, Mohammad Anwar, operated the lifter. Meanwhile, another guard tried to climb on the forklift but was dragged down by security guards standing on the ground. The falling guard held the legs of the guard on forklift and eventually pulled down two guards and Mr Khan.
A large number of PTI workers and supporters rushed to the hospital in Liberty and then gathered outside the SKMCH. The highly charged workers continued raising slogans — “Dekho Dekho Kaun Aaya — Shair ka Shikari aaya”, “Imran Teray Jaanisar — Beshumar Beshumar” and “Imran Khan Zindabad”.
Emotional scenes were witnessed in front of the hospital gate and a number of women and young boys were seen crying. Members of Mr Khan’s family, party leaders, candidates and close aides also reached the hospital.
PTI NA-126 candidate Shafqat Mahmood, who was on the stage, appeared disturbed when he descended from there after Mr Khan fell. He along with PTI PP-152 candidate Dr Murad Rass rushed to the hospital. The organisers of the public meeting tried to keep people’s morale high by raising slogans.
After meeting Mr Khan, caretaker Chief Minister Najam Sethi said the PTI chief was stable and feeling pain in his back due to a fracture. He said there was nothing serious but Mr Khan would not be able to address public meetings now.
PTI workers and supporters, including women and young girls, were sitting outside the hospital and chanting slogans expressing their love and passion for Imran Khan.
A senior police investigator told Dawn: “This is apparently an accident and police are still examining what led to the incident.”
He said five bodyguards, all retired SSG commandos, were accompanying Mr Khan. Two of them climbed up with him and the third one, who had clung to the lifter and was trying to reach the top, got it off-balance. Mr Khan fell from approximately 12 feet.
He said guards Shafique, Ayub and Nazir were also admitted to the Shaukat Khanum Hospital.
He said police had recorded statements of the owner of the lifter, its operator and three injured guards. Police didn’t take any of the guards into custody.
Capital City Police Officer Khalid Dad Lak, who visited the scene near Ghalib Market, told reporters that Mr Khan had fallen from the lifter by accident and there seemed no ulterior motive behind it.
He said had had constituted a fact-finding committee jointly led by the DIG (Operations) and DIG (Investigation).