LAHORE: The Lahore police launched a fresh crackdown on workers and activists of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), making several arrests from various parts of the city during the last three days.
The investigation police sprung into action on the basis of a new list of 884 PTI workers circulated to all the 84 police stations of the city as ‘new targets’.
According to an official, a majority of these new targets has been declared the ‘B team’ of the PTI’s top leaderships, including Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, Mian Aslam Iqbal, Hassaan Niazi, Dr Yasmin Rashid etc.
He says the list carries names, addresses, the computerised national identified card numbers and mobile phone records of 884 of the party workers who reportedly made calls from the protest venues on May 9 when scores of people allegedly attacked installations of the law enforcement agencies.
The details of the number of calls the PTI workers made were also mentioned against each name (a copy of the list is also available with Dawn).
Police carrying out raids to arrest 884 new targets; they made calls from protest venues on May 9
Police traced the party workers through geofencing of the major locations, including Corps Commander House/ Jinnah House and PTI chief Imran Khan’s residence at Zaman Park.
The fresh list, however, raised eyebrows as many people wondered why the Lahore police high-ups came up with names of new PTI workers to be targeted about six months after the May 9 violence.
There are reports that the new list has been prepared solely by the Lahore investigation police wing and several teams have been dispatched to arrest the listed PTI workers.
Lahore DIG investigation Imran Kishwar confirms to Dawn that the list is fresh and carries names of new PTI workers, saying that the earlier practice of identification traced 1,958 main leaders, hardcore workers and activists of the PTI in the wake of the May 9 incidents.
He says the earlier list was prepared with the coordination of the sensitive agencies, including Intelligence Bureau (IB), Special Branch of the Punjab Police, Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), local police and other relevant law enforcement agencies.
He adds that several PTI workers who had played a key role in the May 9 attacks were missing from the earlier lists.
Mr Kishwar claims that more names of the party workers came to the fore when the investigation police interrogated the arrested accused in the May 9 attacks and they gave information about the co-accused who had joined them during the violence.
“It took the Lahore investigation police 45 days to identify 884 new party workers and activists who were physically present at the Jinnah House and the Zaman Park,” he says, adding that many of them also took part in violent attacks at multiple sites on May 9.
“The locations of most of them were traced at the Jinnah House and the Zaman Park from where they made mobile phone calls to contact the senior party leaders,” the officer alleges.
Similarly, the police accessed their social media accounts for verification and got credible evidence of their physical presence at the attacked sites/venues through the posts they shared and the ones they later deleted to avoid arrests, the DIG investigation says and adds that the mobile phone data analysis of the already arrested senior political leaders of the PTI also helped the police identify the party activists and their involvement in the May 9 violence.
To a question, the DIG investigation says the Lahore police launched a vigorous crackdown during the last three days and arrested over 90 of the PTI workers.
“The major arrest was of Altaf Mahmood, a PTI hardcore activist, whose name was missing from the first list of May 9 attacks. He was the first who set some goods on fire at the Jinnah House (Corps Commander House) when he brought petrol bombs and other such inflammable material in a bag,” Mr Kishwar alleges.
Sharing details of the action initiated earlier against 1,958 PTI men, he says 1,300 party workers were earlier arrested by the Lahore police investigation wing during the raids carried out at their homes and other places they were using as hideouts in the wake of the FIRs lodged against them for carrying out violent attacks at the buildings of the sensitive agencies.
The DIG says that 294 of them later appeared to be innocent, 334 others have been declared proclaimed offenders as they went underground while 315 managed to obtain bail from the courts.
Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2023