LAHORE: Gearing up for a major action against those involved in the torture of PTI’s leaders and workers on May 25, the Lahore police on Thursday shown the door to 25 station house officers (SHOs) for their alleged involvement in the “sordid” episode during the party’s Azadi March at the “behest of the Hamza Shehbaz administration”.

Official sources indicate that axe will fall not only on civil and police bureaucrats but also some politicians of PML-N. The PTI-PML-Q Punjab government may give a surprise to PML-N by arresting some of its top leaders like former chief minister Hamza Shehbaz, federal Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Special Assistant to PM Ata Tarar.

“Lahore police have suspended 25 SHOs from service and initiated inquiry against them,” Punjab Home Minister retired Col Muhammad Hashim said in a tweet.

He quoted Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi as having directed him to take action against people involved in breaking the law on behalf of their master in May. “I will not leave anyone and will take action against [them] all,” he said.

DIG Operation Afzaal Ahmed Kouser claimed to have “conducted interviews and removed SHOs from their posts while he also appointed 32 new SHOs” to different police stations in the city.

However, he claimed to have removed old SHOs and issued posting orders for new SHOs by taking administrative measures.

Repeated attempts to obtain his comment failed.

It may be noted that SHOs in Lahore played a key role in crackdown against PTI leaders and activists ahead of and during the party’s Azadi March on Islamabad.

Earlier on Aug 1, the Punjab government removed two top police officials for their role in torture of the participants of Azadi March.

The government removed DIG Operations retired Capt Sohail Chaudhry and directed him to report to the Services and General Administration Department. AIG Special Branch Usman Anwar was also removed and his services were handed over to the Centre.

Previously, the Punjab government had withdrawn all cases filed against PTI leaders during Azadi March when PML-N ruled the province and decided to take action against policemen involved in torturing the participants.

It may be recalled that PTI chairman Imran Khan had formed an anti-victimisation committee under the chairmanship of Shafqat Mahmood. The committee at a meeting reviewed all the cases and decided to collect data of policemen and officials who were posted on May 25.

The committee decided to take action against the cops who acted beyond their duty and called upon the Punjab government to withdraw the cases registered to victimise the party leaders besides also withdrawing orders to arrest the PTI leaders.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2022

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