PAT to challenge ATC verdict against party workers: Qadri

Updated April 21, 2019

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Tahirul Qadri says the party will stand by its workers. — AP/File
Tahirul Qadri says the party will stand by its workers. — AP/File

LAHORE: The Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) will challenge the verdict of an anti-terrorism court (ATC) against 107 workers and leaders before the Lahore High Court (LHC) through a team of lawyers.

Addressing his party workers here on Saturday, PAT chief Tahirul Qadri said the party would stand by its workers and a committee had also been formed to take care of them in jail. He also regretted that none of the culprits, named in the Model Town massacre, had been punished, so far but those protesting for justice had been jailed.

The ATC)in Sargodha on Friday had sentenced 107 workers of PAT to seven years jail each besides declaring 10 leaders of the party, including Tahirul Qadri, as proclaimed offenders. The ATC had set 157 of the PAT workers free for lack of evidence.

It may be mentioned that a mob, travelling to Islamabad to participate in the party protest in Aug 2014, had clashed with police at the Bhera interchange on motorway in the Sargodha area and injuries were reported on both sides. The Sargodha division police had booked around 300 PAT workers for attacking the police and damaging public and private properties under the anti-terrorism laws.

Addressing his party workers, Mr Qadri said the workers in Lahore were killed, fired at and baton-charged in front of television cameras; however, the party had been struggling for justice since June 17, 2014.

“No culprit had been punished, not even departmental inquiries were initiated against them. Some 107 workers from six districts of Punjab have been sentenced by the LHC but the party would fight legal battle for them. In the last five years, the party has not been able to get the massacre impartially investigated, which is unfortunate,” he said.

Some party insiders also claimed that the workers were getting increasingly jittery with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), the PAT partner in protests for the justice of Model Town victims. Now, the PTI was in power but the PAT had been left high and dry, struggling for justice for its workers. Though the frustration has been kept under the lid so far by Tahirul Qadri but simmering anti-PTI passions may explode sooner rather than later.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2019