— Dawn
— Dawn

SAHIWAL: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) local leadership is apparently running a publicity campaign in support of a local party leader who is on bail in a case of allegedly slapping a senior postmaster (SPM) officer in her office. Banners have been displayed across the city to condemn the police for registering a “fake and baseless” case against him.

PTI District Information Secretary Naveed Aslam was caught red-handed by the General Post Office staff and handed over to City police for slapping their boss in her office on Sept 23. He was booked in a criminal case for three bailable offences under sections 186, 506, 354 but got bail the next day.

Later, non-bailable offences under sections 336, 337(L2) and 452 were added to the first information report after issuance of a detailed medical report by the ENT surgeon at DHQ Teaching Hospital on Sept 28. Subsequently, non-bailable arrest warrants against Aslam were issued by a lower court.

However, a question arises as to how a full-fledged campaign was being run by a PTI local leader in the city publicly humiliating the police by calling the case against him “fake and baseless”.

Despite non-bailable arrest warrants, suspect not arrested yet

More than 100 banners had been displayed in different main bazaars, intersections, crossings and even in front of the district police chief and regional police officer’s (RPO) offices under the name of Majid Khan, a general secretary of UC-6 from the PTI.

On the other hand, two weeks had passed but the City police had failed to arrest Aslam despite arrest warrants. Station House Officer Muddasar Ghaffar told Dawn that police raided a few possible hideouts of the suspect in Sahiwal and Lahore, but could not find him. A senior investigator told Dawn over anonymity that police were unable to trace the suspect’s whereabouts through his call data record also.

SPM Officer Sofia Qasim called the banner campaign an “obstruction to her legal right”. Talking to Dawn, she said, “Earlier, police failed to stop the suspect from running social media campaigns against me, but now he has become courageous enough to run a public banner campaign against a genuine criminal case.”

She told Dawn that she had held three separate meetings with District Police Officer (DPO) Amir Tamoor and one with RPO Tariq Abbas to know about the progress in the case, but the suspect had not been arrested yet.

The RPO said the police was not under any political influence and was trying to send the culprit behind bars. He said it was police’s duty to arrest the suspect so that Ms Qasim’s confidence was restored and established.

Many locals said that on Sunday PTI Punjab President Ijaz Chaudhry had visited Sahiwal and met with party office-bearers and the banner campaign was meant to show Aslam’s innocence to the party high-up.

Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2020

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