Lahore court issues arrest warrants for 12 PML-N leaders in Punjab CM poll violence case

Published August 19, 2022
<p>A CCTV camera still at a residence of PML-N leader Rana Mashood shows law enforcers reaching his place to arrest him. — Photo provided by author</p>

A CCTV camera still at a residence of PML-N leader Rana Mashood shows law enforcers reaching his place to arrest him. — Photo provided by author

A Lahore court on Friday issued non-bailable arrest warrants for 12 PML-N leaders at the request of the city police in the Punjab Assembly attack case involving hooliganism during the chief minister’s election on April 16.

Judicial Magistrate Muhammad Mudasir Hayat issued the warrants as the police, earlier in the day, submitted an application before the court, seeking action against the politicians for allegedly attacking lawmakers in an assembly session two months ago.

The move comes weeks after PTI ally PML-Q's Parvez Elahi took charge as chief minister.

The first information report of the incident was registered the same day at Qila Gujjar Singh Police Station under sections 324 (murder attempt), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 186 (obstructing public service) and 427 (causing damage).

In its application to the court, police said they were making all-out efforts to apprehend the PML-N leaders, "but they are deliberately not showing up before the law enforcement personnel".

The police sought the arrest warrants of prime minister’s special assistant Attaullah Tarar, Rana Mashood Ahmed Khan, Bilal Farooq Tarar, Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Laghari, Saiful Malook Khokhar, Mirza Jawed, Pir Khizer Hayat, Raja Sagheer Ahmed, Abdul Rauf, Pir Ashraf Rasool, Bilal Farooq and Rana Mannan Khan.

"The investigation has to be conducted and processed after arresting the leaders," the police said in a letter to the magistrate.

The Lahore police today visited the house of Rana Mashhood, and broadcasters aired CCTV footage of policemen outside his gate.

In remarks made to Geo News, Rana Mashood said police raided his house today, adding "the cops returned as I was not present at home."

He said the provincial government was resorting to "revenge tactics". He further said his party had reports that more raids would take place "but we won't succumb to such pressure tactics and face all cases".

Meanwhile, Atta Tarar called out the inclusion of his brother's name in the arrest warrant and termed it a "political revenge".

In a tweet, he said he would not "bow down" and face the situation with courage.

PML-N's Hamza Shehbaz also condemned the provincial government's action, saying such measures were "reprehensible and reflect dictatorial thinking".

"The morale of the PML-N will not be shaken by the fascist government's brutal tactics. Such vindictive thinking cannot shake our democratic spirit," he said in a tweet.

Last week the police moved against Atta Tarar, a ‘blue-eyed’ associate of former chief minister Hamza Shehbaz in the same case.

A police team raided both PML-N leaders’ residences in the city, but returned empty handed as the suspects were in the capital.

Dawn earlier reported that the PML-N leaders have flown off to the "safer confines" of Islamabad, where their party is in power, to evade arrest.

April 16 violence

Hamza was elected by securing 197 out of 371 total votes in the legislature on April 16 amid boycott by Elahi and his supporters after violence in the house which erupted as soon as Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari, who was supposed to preside over the polling under a high court order, entered the hall to chair the session.

The PTI-PML-Q lawmakers threw plastic lotas at him, while some of them assaulted him, dragging him by his hair and even thrashed him.

The assembly guards rescued Mazari and took him back to his chamber as the protesting PTI and PML-Q MPAs, meanwhile, broke the speaker’s chair, microphone and a side-table, and threw around various articles, including files, in the house.

It took around three and a half hours to call in anti-riot police amidst strong protest and violence. The PML-N MPAs lost patience when several private guards of Elahi (wearing assembly force’s uniform) as well as plainclothesmen entered the hall from the rear entrance. The intruders were thrashed and thrown out of the house, furthering the mayhem that spanned over five hours.

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