LAHORE: The police launched a brutal crackdown on Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) candidates and activists in several districts of Punjab on Sunday to stop them from taking out election rallies.

The party in Lahore, however, showed defiance and its candidates with their workers and supporters organised rallies in all constituencies.

Enthusiastic participants of the rallies said they had shunned fear on the call of Mr Khan and came out on the roads.

As the rallies started picking momentum, the police also became active and picked men, women and children. PTI-backed NA-129 candidate Mian Muhammad Azhar was also arrested by police but released after a few hours.

In NA-130 and PP-174, where NA candidate Dr Yasmin Rashid is incarcerated, MPA candidate Chaudhry Asghar Gujjar organized a rally. In PP-145, Shahdra area, Yasir Gillani brought a massive electoral campaign rally.

Several candidates, supporters arrested; houses being raided

BAHAWALPUR: Despite police action, workers in droves participated in the rallies in Bahawalpur city, Uch Sharif, and Ahmedpur East. Police allegedly tortured demonstrators, including women. The PTI circles alleged the arrest of three activists, but the police denied allegations.

PTI candidate for NA-166 Kanwal Shozeb led the rally in Ahmedpur East, which was attacked by police. In Uch Sharif, the police beat reporters covering the PTI rally, snatched their cameras, and tortured them. Police claimed the issue had been settled with media.

In the city, the rally was staged in Shahi Bazaar, Circular Road and near the railway junction restaurant. Participants paraded on city roads with banners, but when police appeared on the scene, the demonstrators disappeared. However, three of them were taken into custody. The police however denied their arrest.

The Uch Sharif police arrested Mujibur Rahman Mural, PTI candidate for PP-250. Also, PTI candidate for NA-168, Samiullah Chaudhury, district president Asghar Joyia, and candidate for PP-253, and Shafqat Shaheen, candidate for PP-254 were granted interim bail till Feb 12.

In Lodhran, Sabeen Gull Khan, PTI candidate for PP-224, told a press conference his life was being threatened by fake PTI activists in the constituency.

OKARA: Mehr Abdul Sattar, PTI candidate for PP-191, and Malik Malik Muhammad Akram Bhatti, PTI aspirant for NA-135, besides PTI-backed Rai Hammad Aslam Kharl in PP-192 took out rallies in rural belts, whereas in the city NA-136, Rao Hasan Sikander and PP-191 candidate Chaudhry Saleem Sadiq could not take out the rally as the police blocked the road.

Mr Sattar started the rally from village 4/4L which, after taking rounds of various villages, when reached on the main Shahbore road, was intercepted by the police near village 25/24 L bridge. He was forced to end up the rally.

From NA -135, Malik Muhammad Akram Bhatti along with Rai Hammad Aslam Kharl, Arif Khan Lashari and Syed Umair Gillani held a rally from village Mupalky till Adda Naul Plot.

TOBA TEK SINGH: Scores of PTI activists took out a rally in Jhang and faced police action at Ayub Chowk. The police arrested five of them. Police also raided on Saturday night the outhouse of former PTI MPA Rana Shahbaz Ahmad.

In Toba, a rally was brought out in Rajana, led by PTI president Rana Ghulam Sarwar Babar, and another in Chak 189 GB Patli, which was led by PTI ( PP-121) candidate Sardar Khawar Sher Gadhi.

District PTI president advocate Mian Abdul Basit claimed that police raided the residences of PTI candidates. He said advocate Adeel Safdar Chohan reached Shahbaz Chowk with a party flag in hand but police arrested him and freed him hours after.

He said the house of NA-106 PTI candidate Khalid Nawaz Sadhraij was cordoned off all Saturday night in his village Chak 288 GB.

At Khanewal, police arrested Tahir Shah Khagga, brother of PTI candidate for NA-145 Abid Shah Khagga on Saturday night. Two brothers, Kanwar Waqas Riaz and Kanwar Danish Riaz, cousins of PTI PP-207 candidate Kanwar Tehseen Ashraf, were also arrested in Tulamba.

Small rallies were taken out by PTI activists in Faisalabad in those places where police was not deputed. In NA-104, supporters of PTI candidate Sahibzada Hamid Raza and PP-110 candidate Hasan Zaka Niazi with dozens of motorcyclists visited the localities of the constituency. They disappeared through streets whenever they saw police vans coming towards them.

A rally was also led by NA-101 PTI candidate Rana Muhammad Atif which passed through localities of his constituency. Some small rallies reached Clock Tower.

KASUR: Dozens of PTI workers and activists were arrested in Kasur on Sunday. DPO Tariq Aziz claimed police raided only for those who “tore posters of other candidates and tried to create unrest”. He also claimed that there was fear of the maintenance of public order due to the abusive language of PTI workers.

PP-180 candidate Waqas Hassan Mokal said police cordoned off village Kul Mokal since morning, forcing him and party workers to confine in their houses. He said about 30 workers were arrested, and several motorcycles were impounded. He, however, managed to reach Bhongi Kalian from where he took about a dozen party workers and reached Allahabad Chowk, where they raised party slogans and displayed PTI flags. However, the activity ended in a few minutes as a heavy contingency of police forced the workers to disperse.

City police raided the house of PTI worker Qaisar Ayub and relatives, arrested them on suspicion of holding corner meetings. Police, however, released them after a few hours. Police also foiled the rally of NA-133 candidate Azeemudin Lakhvi and arrested over a dozen activists.

According to Waqas Mokal, police even raided the houses of those voters where PTI activists and candidates were holding corner meetings.

DERA GHAZI KHAN: The district also witnessed a crackdown on PTI workers, as police were deployed throughout the city and its surroundings. PTI activists remained off the road to avoid threats of arrest as police vehicles were deployed at key intersections and roads to prevent protests.

The district administration and police actively restricted PTI workers from demonstrating, although no official confirmation of arrests was provided, despite reports of a few individuals being taken into custody. Police denied any arrest.

To find your constituency and location of your polling booth, SMS your NIC number (no spaces) to 8300. Once you know your constituency, visit the ECP website here for candidates.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2024



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