ISLAMABAD, Oct 29: An apparent move to free an alleged land grabber, Taji Khokhar, from police custody during his appearance in court was foiled by the law enforcement agency here on Tuesday, police sources said.

Senior police officers on condition of anonymity told Dawn that 20 armed people arrived at the District and Session Court Islamabad at F-8 in five vehicles.

The men were armed with modern sophisticated weapons such as Kalashnikovs, 9mm pistols and submachine guns.

According to the police officials, the group had come to set Taji Khokhar free and also meant to kill Maulana Ishtiaq Al-Salakin, who was a complainant against Khokhar in a land grabbing case.

On March 6, 2011, Taji Khokhar along with 23 armed men had allegedly raided and occupied land measuring 136 kanals at Tarli Khurd.

A case was then registered in this regard with the Kural police on September 15 this year.

One of the police sources said, “We had a Special Brach report which maintained that Taji Khokhar’s henchmen will attack the lower court to set him free and assassinate the complainant.”

Taji Khokhar was scheduled to appear in the court in connection with the land grabbing case on Tuesday.

In light of the report, vigilance in and around the court was enhanced and the five vehicles were spotted near the court premises.

On suspicion, the police then approached the vehicles and asked the men to identify themselves, the sources said.

According to the police sources, they also spotted weapons inside the vehicle and seniors were informed immediately.

The area was cordoned off while the men were asked to surrender, but they put up resistance and started beating policemen with weapon butts and batons.

They also tore the uniforms of some policemen during the brawl. Subsequently, a contingent of police including the anti-terrorist squad reached the spot and succeeded to overpower the resisting men.

According to the sources, the police recovered 14 Kalashnikovs, 9mm pistols and sub-machine guns (SMGs) along with the batons, and all 20 men were shifted to the Margalla police station.

However, the police took hours to register a case and when it was finally registered, only 14 people were nominated in the FIR.

Furthermore, the police only mentioned the recovery of an SMG, six magazines and 94 rounds.

The case was registered on charges of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) 148 (rioting), 49 (unlawful assembly), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 224 (resistance to lawful apprehension), 353 (Criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of duty), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 511 (attempting to commit offences) along with the Arms Ordinance.

The police sources said the Margalla police had allowed four main people to leave the police station along with their ammunition.

They maintained that in the FIR, it was mentioned that six people had managed to escape from the scene when police tried to arrest them.

When Mohammad Yasin, Taji Khokhar’s spokesman, was contacted, he said the whole incident was an act of the government to defame Mr Khokhar.

“The guards and employees of Taji Khokhar have nothing to do with the issue and were not involved in it,” he maintained.

However, he added that voters and supporters of the Khokhar clan might be involved in the incident.

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