LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has vehemently condemned the ‘brutal torture’ of citizens peacefully protesting against rigging in elections at GPO Chowk on March 2, following reports that one of the torture victims has been admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) of Lahore General Hospital on Sunday.

According to the PTI, Ahmad Shah, a young man, was allegedly arrested during Saturday’s PTI protest at GPO Chowk and subjected to severe torture while in custody. The party claims that the youth sustained fierce blows to his head, leading to his transfer to the ICU at Lahore General Hospital, where he is currently fighting for his life.

A police spokesman said Ahmad Shah sustained injuries when he ran to avoid arrest but fell on road in the process at the GPO Chowk. He said Shah was stable and scans at LGH showed no fracture.

IGP Usman Anwar told Dawn that Shah was in police commando outfit when police tried to arrest him. He said this illegal act on the part of Shah was also part of FIR registered on Saturday.

Sharing a video depicting several policemen guarding Ahmad Shah’s ICU bed, PTI Central Punjab General Secretary Hammad Azhar stated that the victim’s family members and lawyers were not allowed to meet him. Azhar also alleged that the police abducted Ahmad Shah’s brother when he arrived at the hospital.

In addition, Mr Azhar revealed that the police had filed a torture case against a PTI worker named Arshad, who was arrested alongside Ahmad Shah at GPO Chowk. He announced the dispatch of lawyers and senior party leaders to gather details from the hospital.

PTI leader Mehr Sharafat Ali, who contested against Maryam Nawaz, tweeted that Ahmad Shah had slipped into a coma. Urging the public and party workers to converge at Lahore General Hospital, Mr. Ali expressed concerns about potential tragic outcomes, similar to the Zill-i-Shah murder. He shared a video footage capturing Ahmad Shah’s arrest by the police.

Mr Azhar, in another tweet, criticized the new government, stating, “This motley crew of PML-N and PPP was utterly rejected in the polls.” He accused the establishment of recycling old political figures and labeled anyone questioning it as a traitor. Mr Azhar predicted that this government, formed with the establishment’s consent, would soon collapse, and the masses would reclaim the power to elect their leaders.

PTI secretary-general Omar Ayub Khan has demanded that an FIR for torture on Ahmad Shah should be registered against IG Punjab Dr Usman Anwar. He stated Ahmad Shah was arrested during a peaceful protest in Lahore and tortured.

“He (Ahmad Shah) is in a critical condition in the Lahore General Hospital,” Mr Ayub said and added that he had stated in his speech in the National Assembly that “PML-N is a fascist party being led by its fascist PM Shahbaz Sharif and CM Maryam Nawaz”. “Condemn this in the strongest words possible,” he stated.

Asif Chaudhry also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2024

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