LAHORE: Amid the allegations of harassment and misuse of powers, the Lahore police continued massive raids in various parts of the city here on Monday and arrested dozens of more workers of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

In the fresh round of raids, the police targeted the second-tier leadership of the party to weaken its strength.

DIG investigation Sohail Akhtar Sukhera, leading the operations, has reportedly asked the force to come hard on the PTI workers. The police higher-ups are avoiding media queries regarding the exact number of arrests they made on Monday. However, the PTI leadership counted the number of arrests in dozens, alleging that crackdown had intensified after midnight.

Several police teams were dispatched to the residences, offices and other possible places of the leaders and party workers to arrest them according to the lists provided to them after high-level meetings.

In midnight raids, ‘dozens of party workers arrested’: JI leader also held

The PTI leadership has accused the police of ‘misusing powers,’ alleging that the police personnel harassed their family members, including children and women, while making forced entry into their homes.

They told the media persons that the police had launched action against the PTI’s leaders and workers in Lahore soon after Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi gave the police a free hand in the name of ‘the writ of the law’.

The police raided the houses of Hafiz Farhat Abbas, the political secretary to PTI chairman Imran Khan, and Kiran Nadeem, the PTI candidate contesting elections from PP-158, besides dozens of other party leaders and workers.

A mobile phone video went viral on social media showing a police team going to the house of PTI leader Musarat Cheema at around 1:30am on Monday.

It shows the police vans stationed outside her house and deployed force asking the family to give them surety that no family members, including children, would go to the street protests against police. The family alleges that the police misused power/authority by conducting raids at their home in the wee hours when the family members were asleep.

There are reports that the police took into custody the employees of Ms Cheema after they could not find her at home. She was not present at her home at the time of the raid.

A heavy contingent of police conducted a raid for the arrest of PTI leader Bajash Khan Niazi who owns a leading private transport in the city.

In a video post on his social media account, Bajash Niazi said the police raided his company’s office at 2am and shut it down, he said the workshop of the company and office of his brother Hammad Niazi were also raided and they were also closed forcibly. He alleged that police raided his house and the house of his brother to intimidate them for supporting Imran Khan.

The police, however, could not arrest him, his cousins and other party workers.

In a statement to the media, Bajash Niazi alleged that the police were committing brutality by targeting him, his relatives and his business.

He said he had submitted nomination papers some two days back from the constituency of PP-146 from the PTI party and the police were hurling threats to close down his business completely for contesting elections.

Reports emerged that the police arrested Jamaat-i-Islami leader Abdul Qayyum, a candidate for election from PP-166, Lahore.

Qaisar Sharif, a spokesperson for the Jamaat-i-Islami, confirmed the arrest of Abdul Qayyum, alleging that the police were conducting raids for the arrest of Jamaat’s workers and harassing them.

The police also raided the Baghbanpura house of the office-bearer of the PTI’s ‘Tiger Force,’ Mian Tariq, to arrest him. According to the sources, Tariq was not present at the time of the raid. Later, he alleged, in a statement to the media, that the police blatantly violated the laws, scaled the boundary walls of his house to break into it. He accused the police of harassing the women of his family.

The raids were also conducted early on Monday at the residences of Khawaja Riaz Mahmood, his son Khawaja Salman at Gowalmandi.

In Nishat Colony, the police reportedly arrested PTI worker Jamshed Jutt’s son, Asif Jutt, from his residence.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2023

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