Lahore ATC extends interim bails of PTI leaders in Azadi March vandalism case

Published June 17, 2022
PTI leaders Hammad Azhar and Yasmin Rashid outside a Lahore anti-terrorism court. — DawnNewsTV/File
PTI leaders Hammad Azhar and Yasmin Rashid outside a Lahore anti-terrorism court. — DawnNewsTV/File

A Lahore anti-terrorism court on Friday extended the interim bails of top Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leaders in a case pertaining to alleged violations of Section 144 and attacks on law enforcement agencies on May 25 — the day PTI workers marched to Islamabad.

Last week, the court had issued non-bailable arrest warrants for PTI leaders Mian Akram Usman, Zubair Niazi, Imtiaz Sheikh, Mian Mehmood ur Rasheed, Shafqat Mahmood, Nadeem Abbas, Murad Raas, Mian Aslam Iqbal, Yasir Gilani, Dr Yasmin Rashid, Hammad Azhar, Andleeb Abbas, and Ijaz Chaudhry for "intentionally concealing themselves in order to avoid their arrest".

The order was issued at the request of the Punjab police. However, later, they were granted pre-arrest bail till June 17 (today).

During the hearing today, all the accused PTI leaders appeared in court except former education minister Shafqat Mahmood, who is currently convalescing because of a surgery.

When the court of Judge Abher Gul Khan resumed the proceedings, the counsel of PTI, Burhan Moazzam Malik, said that the police was not telling his clients why first information reports (FIRS) were registered against them.

"We will only be able to present our arguments when the police provides details of the accusation," he added.

The investigating officer told the court that some of the PTI leaders named in the criminal complaints had still not "become a part of the investigation", which was hindering the progress of the case.

Subsequently, the court ordered all the suspects to become a part of the investigation and extended their bails till June 28.

Last month, the Punjab police had registered a total of 42 criminal cases against PTI’s senior leaders and workers for alleged agitation in the aftermath of the long march.

It said three police officials had been martyred in the line of duty while 100 others were injured, three of them seriously, in allegedly attacks by PTI workers. Of them, 34 personnel were injured in Lahore, 48 in Attock and nine in Sargodha, Mianwali, Rawal­pindi, Jhelum and other cities.

Earlier, a police official told Dawn that 12 cases were registered in Lahore, five in Sialkot, four each in Rawalpindi and Sargodha, three in Mianwali, and two each in Attock and Jhelum, while one FIR was lodged in Chakwal.

'We will continue our war'

Meanwhile, in a brief talk with reporters outside the court, former Punjab health minister Yasmin Rashid said that in the 75 years of her life she had never seen atrocities as intense as those committed by the PML-N government.

"We are the ones who were beaten up. Our cars were damaged. And they have gone ahead to register terrorism cases against us. There can be no greater abuse and injustice with the people than this."

Rashid added that amid skyrocketing inflation, these cases were government tactics to "distract" the nation. "But they should know one thing: we are not scared of anyone. We will continue this war."

Azadi March

On the day of the Azadi March, May 25, clashes between PTI activists and police at Lahore’s Liberty Chowk were reported as the law enforcers resorted to tear gas shelling in an what they said was an attempt to clear roads for traffic.

When PTI’s Lahore chapter gathered its workers at Bhatti Chowk to remove barriers placed in the area to block their route to Islamabad, the police fired tear gas disperse them and arrested several PTI workers. Around 212 other party activists were picked up from other city areas.

During the faceoff, former federal minister Hammad Azhar was reportedly injured in a "direct attack" from the police. Meanwhile, the windshield of former Punjab health minister Yasmin Rashid's vehicle was also smashed.

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