ECP orders inquiry into PTI-PML-N clash at election office in Lahore

Published June 19, 2022
This still image from a video shows unidentified persons attacking a car. — Screenshot courtesy: DawnNewsTV
This still image from a video shows unidentified persons attacking a car. — Screenshot courtesy: DawnNewsTV

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Sunday ordered a "detailed inquiry" into a clash reported between PTI and PML-N workers at an election office in Lahore's PP-167 constituency yesterday after the former ruling party alleged that "dozens of PTI workers" were injured.

In written instructions to the Lahore Capital City Police Officer, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the electoral body's district monitoring officer Nabeel Ahmed noted that an "incident of firing/clash" had occurred near the Allah Hoo Chowk between a "PML-N candidate and PTI workers", and initial inquiry reports suggested that few people had been injured.

"In this regard, a detailed inquiry into the incident may be conducted immediately and report thereof be shared with this office," he said.

Political affiliations, the official added, would not be taken into account during the investigation process, asserting that all police officials should be directed to ensure the implementation of the electoral code of conduct.

Earlier today, the PTI had claimed that their election office in Lahore's PP-167 constituency was attacked by party dissident Nazir Ahmed Chohan on Saturday night. Nazir Chohan, meanwhile, made similar claims.

PTI's Hammad Azhar alleged that Chohan, along with a police officer, attacked the party's election office and injured "dozens of workers". "A shot was fired at the head of the [party] candidate's nephew," he said, claiming that police were refusing to file a report.

PTI leader Shahbaz Gill said that Chohan and his "goons" attacked the election office of the party's candidate located at Allah Hoo Chowk. He alleged that they also injured the candidate's son Adil before fleeing from the scene.

"These turncoats are not in control of their senses. Faced with fear, they have resorted to such despicable tactics," he said.

Chohan was among 25 Punjab Assembly PTI dissident lawmakers that were de-seated by the ECP for voting for Hamza Shehbaz in the Punjab chief minister's election in April. A Dawn report said Chohan is the likely PML-N candidate for the PP-167 constituency as by-polls for 20 of the 25 seats will be held on July 17. The remaining five are reserved seats.

Chohan was elected as an MPA on a PTI ticket in 2018 in the same constituency.

Over 100 PTI workers attacked me: Chohan

Meanwhile, at a press conference later today, Chohan claimed that more than 100 PTI workers attacked him with sticks and weapons late Saturday night.

"I was on my way back home at 3am when some vehicles blocked my way near the Allah Hoo Chowk," he said. "Shabbir Gujjar (PTI's candidate) and his accomplices misbehaved with me and threatened to take my life. They also fired shots at my car with modern weapons."

"I escaped narrowly from there with burst tyres," he added.

He further claimed that PTI knew PML-N would win from the PP-167 constituency. "They are using such tactics because they know they will lose," he claimed, adding that PTI workers had "conducted a recce of the route I had to take back home".

Chohan also called on the Punjab police, security agencies and top leadership of the province to provide him security.

Police committee formed

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Lahore police said in a statement that officials had begun the process of identifying and searching for the shooter. "No one is allowed to take the law into their own hands," he said.

He went on to say that strict action would be taken against the suspect who open fire and spread panic, adding that officials had also obtained CCTV footage of the incident.

Law and order will be ensured during the campaign for the by-polls, the official said, adding that the electoral code of conduct would be enforced. The spokesman reiterated that no one was above the law and that strict action would be taken against violators.

He concluded the statement by saying that the Lahore DIG Operations had constituted a committee headed by Saddar SP.

Later, the Johar Town police, on behalf of the state, registered a first information report (FIR) against unidentified persons under sections 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 324 (attempt to commit murder) and 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of Rs50) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The complaint, filed by Assistant Sub Inspector Muhammad Amin, stated that the police received a complaint late Saturday night regarding a clash between PTI and PML-N workers but the rioters managed to escape before the police teams reached there.

During the investigation, it added, the police found 12 bullet casings of 9MM pistols and 1 casing of Kalashnikov.

ECP issues notices to Chohan, Gujjar

Separately, on Sunday evening, the ECP issued notices to Chohan and Shabbir Gujjar for violating the code of conduct issued by the electoral body.

It said that the incitement to violence or resort to violence pre-poll campaign and polling hours was strictly prohibited by contesting candidates and their supporters.

Moreover, the notice continued, "there will be a complete ban on carriage and display of all kinds of weapons and fire arms in public meetings and processions as well as on the polling day and until 24 hours after the consolidation of official results by the returning officers".

"Violations will be treated as an illegal practise," it added.

The ECP, subsequently, directed Chohan and Gujjar to appear in before the district monitoring officer either in person or through a counsel at 12pm tomorrow (June 20) to "clarify their positions".

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