• Police submit challans in cases against PTI leaders, workers over May 9 violence
• SHC issues notice to information ministry over broadcast ban on ex-PM
LAHORE: Joint investigation teams constituted to investigate the violence following PTI chief Imran Khan’s arrest in connection with a graft case in May have declared more than 900 activists, including the former prime minister and other party bigwigs, prime suspects in a dozen cases and submitted challans (charge sheets) to this effect in an anti-terrorism court on Thursday.
According to Lahore police, the PTI chairman and over 900 other party leaders and activists nominated in the May 9 cases have been “declared guilty of serious offences”.
“We have declared them prime accused in 12 out of the total 14 cases registered under the anti-terrorism act and other charges at Lahore’s various police stations… [and] challans have been submitted in the ATC,” DIG Operations Imran Kishwar told Dawn.
He said the JITs obtained “sufficient evidence” against the nominated persons, including Imran Khan, former Punjab governor Omar Sarfaraz Cheema, former provincial ministers Mian Mehmoodur Rashid, Dr Yasmin Rashid, and others.
Fashion designer Khadija Shah, Sanam Javed, and some other activists of the PTI were also nominated in the cases, he added. The officer said that the evidence was based on reports received from Pemra, the Federal Investigation Agency, and military authorities.
According to the DIG, digital and photogrammetric evidence as well as voice messages of the suspects “confirmed the allegations” levelled against them in over a dozen cases lodged at different police stations in the provincial capital.
A large number of PTI activists had attacked military installations, police vehicles, and other public and private properties in Lahore, according to the cases registered with the police. The vandalism at the Lahore Corps Commander’s House (Jinnah House), Askari Tower, and the Shadman police station drew special attention when the video clips surfaced on media.
To a question, the police officer said that over 900 accused persons had been nominated in the FIRs registered at Lahore’s various police stations, including Sarwar Road, Race Course, and Model Town.
He said that investigations were also underway in two other cases pertaining to the May 9 violent attacks and investigation teams would complete and submit the challans in these cases at the earliest.
Challans submitted in ATC
On Thursday, the prosecution submitted challans in an anti-terrorism court (ATC) against PTI leaders and hundreds of workers, holding them “guilty” of multiple charges in cases pertaining to the May 9 riots, including the attack on the corps commander’s residence.
Special Prosecutor Syed Farhad Ali Shah told Dawn that the challans had been filed to the extent of those suspects interrogated by the police, presented before the trial court, and subsequently sent on judicial remand in the cases.
Regarding the status of the challan against the PTI chairman, he said the investigation against former prime minister Imran Khan was “still incomplete”. Mr Shah said the PTI chief had not been taken into physical remand in any of the May 9 cases, nor had the court summoned him yet due to his arrest in other cases.
In the challans filed before the court, the prosecution alleged that the violent protests led by the suspects on May 9 were part of a planned conspiracy against the state. It said over “400 pieces of video evidence, including speeches of the PTI chairman, proved that the attacks on military installations and premises in cantonment areas were pre-planned”.
Charges of mutiny and waging war against the state have been included in all cases and reports from the FIA and intelligence agencies have also been attached to the challans. As many as 368 suspects, including party leaders, have been challaned in the Jinnah House attack case alone.
The challan in the Jinnah House case consisted of more than 3,000 pages and a list of 210 prosecution witnesses has been compiled. In the Askari Tower case, 65 suspects have been nominated and a list of 55 witnesses has been submitted along with the charges.
In a case at the Gulberg police station, five suspects have been nominated and the prosecution filed a list of 36 witnesses.
Pemra ban on Imran
Meanwhile, the Sindh High Court issued notices to the information ministry and Pemra in a plea against the ban on the coverage of the PTI and its chairman Imran Khan.
Mohammad Tahamas Ali Khan approached the SHC on Aug 1. After a preliminary hearing, Justice Mohammad Abdur Rahman put both defendants on notice with directions to file comments by Oct 16.
Representing the plaintiff, barrister Ali Tahir contended the ban was a violation of his client’s rights to association, expression and right to information as defined in Article 19 and 19-A as well as several rulings of the superior courts.
Ishaq Tanoli in Karachi also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2023