316 PTI workers arrested so far for ‘vandalism, attacking police’ outside FJC: Islamabad police

Published March 22, 2023
A supporter of former prime minister Imran Khan, walks with a riot shield used by the police, during a clash outside the federal judicial complex in Islamabad, Pakistan on March 18, 2023. — Reuters
A supporter of former prime minister Imran Khan, walks with a riot shield used by the police, during a clash outside the federal judicial complex in Islamabad, Pakistan on March 18, 2023. — Reuters
Police officers walk past a bomb disposal squad van damaged by supporters of former prime minister Imran Khan, during a clash outside the federal judicial complex in Islamabad, Pakistan on March 18, 2023. — Reuters
Police officers walk past a bomb disposal squad van damaged by supporters of former prime minister Imran Khan, during a clash outside the federal judicial complex in Islamabad, Pakistan on March 18, 2023. — Reuters

The Islamabad Police on Wednesday said they have arrested a total of 316 PTI supporters to date for allegedly attacking police officers and causing chaos outside the Federal Judicial Complex (FJC) on March 18 when PTI Chairman Imran Khan appeared there for a court hearing.

Hours-long clashes were reported between PTI workers and the capital police on Saturday after the former prime minister arrived at the FJC to attend a hearing in the Toshakhana case.

In the violent confrontation, a contingent of law enforcers and PTI supporters used anti-riot gear against each other with teargas used from both sides to push the opposing side back. The PTI used rocks against the police alongside petrol bombs to set their vehicles on fire.

The Islamabad Police had also lodged a first information report (FIR) — including terrorism charges — against Imran and more than a dozen PTI leaders.

In a tweet today, the police accused PTI supporters of “incitement, arson, vandalism [and] attacks on police”.

It added that police teams were conducting further raids for more arrests and that the identification process of all suspects with the help of cameras was underway.

The police further said, “Other districts are being alerted about the suspects arrested for being involved in violent incidents so that they (suspects) could be handed over to them (those districts).”

The Islamabad police also detailed its plan of action against various individuals — including government officials, company employees and immigrants — if found to have been involved in Saturday’s chaotic events.

On the matter of the suspected involvement of any government officials in the “violent actions”, the capital police said alerts of their involvement were being sent to the “relevant departments so that departmental action could be taken”.

It added that civil servants active on social media who were involved in the “inciting actions” were also being identified so departmental action could be taken against them as well.

Alerts about the involvement of employees from private organisations and companies in “terrorist activities” would be sent to their respective organisations, the Islamabad police asserted.

“Letters are being written to the respective foreign embassies of the immigrants found involved in these actions. Legal action is also being taken against the facilitators financially assisting these violent protests,” the police further said.

Summarising the losses, it said that “58 police officials were injured during the violent vandalism while 12 cars, 20 motorcycles and a police chowki (checkpost) were set on fire”.

Imran alleges his nephew subjected to custodial torture

Meanwhile, Imran today alleged that his nephew Hassaan Niazi was subjected to custodial torture, a day after an Islamabad district and sessions court on Tuesday granted police his two-day physical remand in a case related to misbehaving with officials.

In a tweet today, the former premier said: “[I] strongly condemn the custodial torture that is being done on our workers & leaders including Amjad Niazi, & now, from what I have learnt, on Hassaan Niazi who was first abducted immediately after he got bail, and then named falsely in another FIR.

“Shameful fascism and law of the jungle,” he added.

Niazi was re-arrested on Monday in a separate case as he was leaving the FJC after securing pre-arrest bail in three cases.

He had obtained bail from the Anti-Terrorism Court in cases registered against him and other PTI supporters in connection with violence that took place on Feb 28 and March 18 when PTI chief Imran appeared in the FJC.

The FIR — which relates to the alleged misbehaviour with officials — alleged that the police had tried to stop Niazi’s vehicle but the driver tried to run them over. It said that upon being stopped, Niazi stepped out of the vehicle, verbally abused the police and threatened to shoot them.

Islamabad police had sought a 10-day physical remand of Niazi but the court granted a 2-day physical remand.

Past arrests on the FJC incident

On March 19, the Islamabad police had said a terrorism case was registered against PTI protesters at the Counter-Terrorism Department Police Station in the capital.

It had added that 60 individuals were arrested and presented in court with more raids underway for further arrests.

In an earlier tweet, it had stated the number of injured policemen to be 52.

Violent clashes outside FJC

As the former prime minister arrived at the FJC to attend a hearing in the Toshakhana case, at least 25 people were injured, 30 automobiles — including motorbikes — and a police chowki was set on fire during hours-long clashes between the police and PTI supporters in the federal capital.

In violent clashes that mirrored the scene witnessed at Zaman Park earlier this week, a contingent of law enforcers and PTI supporters used anti-riot gear against each other with teargas used from both sides to push the opposing side back. The PTI used rocks against the police alongside petrol bombs to set their vehicles on fire.

The large crowd that had descended on the judicial complex gathered on the call of PTI leadership, which used social media to urge supporters to reach the judicial complex.

In response, as many as 4,000 personnel — including 700 from FC and 1,000 from the Punjab police — deployed in and around the complex to maintain law and order and stop the gathering from reaching the complex, they added.

Besides, containers were also put on a service road adjacent to the judicial complex. Barbed wires and barricades were also placed to cordon off the area, they said, adding that law enforcers, including the anti-riot team of police, were also deployed at the complex.

The officer in charge deployed at the spot had stopped a jammer vehicle escorting Mr Khan and offered an official jammer vehicle, but the security staff of Imran Khan refused this vehicle.

Subsequently, a pitched battle between the law enforcers and the PTI workers ensued, as both sides targeted each other with teargas and baton-charge.

At around 6pm, Imran left the Judicial Complex but after his departure, the surroundings of the complex remained a battlefield for more than half an hour.

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