LAHORE: The Punjab police on Friday arrested 540 more leaders and workers of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf wanted in cases lodged against them under the Anti-Terrorism Act all over the province for carrying out attacks on the Corps Commander House in Lahore, public and private buildings, law enforcement agencies and their vehicles.
Most of the arrests were made through the CCTV cameras of the Safe City Authority and other video recordings from mobile phones and private cameras.
So far, 205 cases have been lodged by the Punjab police across the province against the party leaders and workers since May 9.
On Thursday night, a brief scuffle broke out between the police and PTI workers. Police stormed the party’s office at the Jail Road for the arrest of workers nominated in the cases registered by various police stations.
According to the reports, the party workers pelted the police with stones but fled when more police force was called for support.
On Friday evening, the police deployment was increased around the residence of the PTI Chairman Imran Khan at Zaman Park following reports that workers were gathering there in large numbers to welcome him after court relief.
Tension mounted in Faisalabad when the lawyers community condemned the police raid at the office of the district bar for the arrest of former provincial minister Ali Afzal Sahi.
The lawyers warned of strong agitation and reaction and demanded action against the police.
To defused tension, the Punjab government made the Faisalabad SSP Operations officer on special duty who was leading the police raid.
In a statement issued here on Friday, Punjab police chief Dr Usman Anwar said that criminals involved in attacks on sensitive installations, public and private properties, and police teams did not deserve any sympathy. “These miscreants are being identified and traced through CCTV footage, video recordings and social media posts.” After Friday arrests, the number of detained leaders and supporters had risen to 2,790, the Punjab police said.
He said more than 152 police officers and officials had been injured in the attacks carried out by violent protesters in Punjab.
Of them, he said, 63 officers and personnel were from the provincial capital Lahore, 26 from Faisalabad, 13 from Gujranwala, 29 from Rawalpindi, 10 from Attock, six from Mianwali and five from Sialkot.
Apart from this, 72 vehicles used by Punjab police and eight privately owned vehicles were damaged and torched, the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, the PTI has strongly condemned the arrest of party leaders and police raid on party’s Jail Road office here. It said police smashed office fixtures, electronic gadgets and burnt party record. “The Punjab police is committing state terrorism in its worst shape,” a PTI spokesman alleged.
The spokesman alleged that police also stole money from a safe lying in the party office.
Mansoor Malik also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2023