LAHORE: A clash took place between the police and TV anchor Imran Riaz who tried to enter the Gaddafi Stadium along with some men who were wearing masks of the slain journalist Arshad Sharif’s face to show solidarity with him on Sunday.

The situation turned tense when the masked men raised slogans in favour of Arshad Sharif and tried to make forced entry into the stadium along with Imran Riaz.

A video clip of the incident showed both sides thrashing each other and the TV anchor’s heated arguments after a police inspector declared that wearing the mask showing the ‘face’ of the late journalist on the premises of the stadium was a violation of the policy/regulations of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

In the footage, the police inspector was heard saying that wearing the mask of slain Arshad Sharif’s face was a ‘specific narrative’ that could not be disseminated in the sports activity.

He also declared the police deputed at the Gaddafii Stadium for security had been strictly directed by the senior officers to disallow such acts that might go against the respect of the country.

Another police official argued that the stadium was a playground and the police, in the light of the instructions of the PCB, would not allow the stuff that might make the national event controversial, saying the PSL match was being broadcast across the world.

In response to the police’s version, Imran Riaz said wearing the mask of Arshad Sharif was not an anti-state act.

He said the cricket fans used to bring with them the stuff they liked to enjoy the cricket match at the stadium. He alleged that he was holding a cricket pass and the police misused their authority by stopping him and his fellows/friends.

“I think the police officials don’t like the narrative that the PDM doesn’t like,” Mr Riaz said.

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2023

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