• Sat. May 27th, 2023

Over 3,500 arrested in Punjab


May 15, 2023 ,

Police (foreground) use tear gas to disperse Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party activists and supporters of former Pakistan´s Prime Minister Imran Khan during a protest against the arrest of their leader, in Lahore on May 10, 2023.—AFP
Police (foreground) use tear gas to disperse Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party activists and supporters of former Pakistan´s Prime Minister Imran Khan during a protest against the arrest of their leader, in Lahore on May 10, 2023.—AFP

LAHORE/RAWALPINDI: In a crackdown on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers, besides identifying suspects behind attacks on GHQ and the Lahore corps commander’s house, the Punjab police have arrested more than 3,500 persons across the province.

Talking to senior journalists in the CM Office on Sunday, Punjab Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi said that on May 9, horrific incidents of terrorism took place in many cities including Lahore and Pakistan was attacked.

According to the estimates, so far, more than Rs6 billion have been lost in these incidents of terrorism and more estimates were being determined.

Naqvi said that all the attacks, encirclement, looting and vandalism were done under regular planning.

He revealed that a large number of government and private buildings in Punjab were destroyed and burned while several vehicles including police vans, ambulances, fire trucks and private vehicles were destroyed.

He said Jinnah House (Corps Commander House), bank, and ambulances were also set on fire while the arms carriers were destroyed in Mianwali.

He said that there was concrete evidence that there was a nefarious plan to burn the planes at PAF base Mianwali, in which they failed.

“Terrorism was done under the guise of politics, these cases of terrorism will be brought to a logical end. No innocent person will be caught and no one responsible for terrorism will escape,” he announced and wowed that every miscreant involved in these incidents of terrorism will be brought to justice and said that compromising on these cases of terrorism will be tantamount to cruelty to Pakistan.

He said there was a protest of a political party in Liberty, the same party’s workers went to Cantt to commit violence and over 400 miscreants stormed into Jinnah House and set it on fire while about 3,400 miscreants were outside the Jinnah House.

The restoration work of Jinnah House was being done by the Ministry of Defence and it will soon be restored to its original condition, he stated.

The interim CM said that they want to punish the terrorists, the attacks were pre-planned. All the places where they attacked were in their lists. He maintained that the government was focusing on arresting these terrorists leaving all the other works aside.

Naqvi claimed that many people have been caught and more will be apprehended, no one will be spared. In the light of concrete evidence, the planners of these terrorist incidents will also be caught, he said and alleged that Dr Yasmin Rashid was the main character of this case.

“It is necessary to bring the case to its logical conclusion,” the caretaker chief minister said, adding that these were the worst incidents in the history of Pakistan. The military buildings and installations that were attacked in past were targeted by the Taliban, BLA and other terrorist organisations.

He said that there were videos and pictures of every miscreant and ensured that no innocent person will be caught and will face speedy trial in all cases and if necessary, the government will increase the number of anti-terrorism courts.

He announced said that in the future, in case of any attack on government properties and buildings, the police will use their powers according to the law.

Over a question, he said many citizens have lodged complaints about the no-go area in Zaman Park and the government will take appropriate action very soon.

Answering another question, he said that the cameras of Safe City were broken and the hard disks were taken out from the cabins and set on fire. Giving details of the loss, he said as per the report of the home department, the attack on CSD was planned, all the equipment was looted, Corps Commander House, Askari Tower and Askari Bank were attacked, ambulances, fire brigades, Wasa vehicles and trailers were burnt, Several ATMs, National Bank, Punjab Bank and two metro stations in Rawalpindi were also burnt, the construction and repair of which will cost about one billion rupees. He added that police single-cabin vehicles, prisoner vans, motorcycles, checkposts and buses were burnt. A group of rioters burnt the Military Tower.

He said political activity was converted into terrorism, which was very alarming and after this the government was also going to write to the Election Commission of Pakistan and a briefing will also be given so that the Commission can take a decision.

He stated that the Punjab government has announced a reward for identifying and reporting miscreants. “People are providing information on WhatsApp numbers. The people are requested to provide more authentic information about terrorists and enemies of the country,” he said.

In response to a question, the interim chief minister said that nothing was more important than the stupidity of a scumbag like Zalmay Khalilzad, and people should not listen to his tweets. “Zalmay Khalilzad was targeting our military leadership, he has no credibility.”

He said that Section 144 was in force in Punjab and there was a complete ban on gatherings and legal action will be taken on violation.

A special committee headed by the chief secretary will assess the damage to private property. He said Dr Yasmin Rashid was taken to Services Hospital when her condition worsened.

Earlier, senior journalists were shown videos of the siege and how the government properties and vehicles were attacked, burnt and destroyed.

The inspector general of police and additional chief secretary of the interior gave a detailed briefing about the sad incidents of terrorism. Provincial Information Minister Amir Mir, the chief secretary and information secretary were also present on the occasion.

Separately a spokesperson for the Punjab Police said that more than 157 police officers and officials were injured in the violent actions of miscreants across Punjab. At least 95 vehicles of Punjab police were damaged and set on fire. At least 27 vehicles of Lahore Police, 19 vehicles from Rawalpindi, 21 from Faisalabad, 9 from Mianwali, 4 vehicles of Multan police, 5 from Sialkot, 3 from Gujranwala, 1 vehicle in Attock, 1 in Toba Tek Singh, 2 vehicles of Jhang police and 3 vehicles of police constabulary were damaged and set on fire.

Likewise, 13 privately owned vehicles were also damaged by the miscreants. Moreover, 22 government buildings including police stations and offices were also severely damaged. The miscreants are being identified and traced through available CCTV footage and video recordings.

Meanwhile, Rawalpindi City Police Officer (CPO) Syed Khalid Mahmood Hamdani disclosed in a press conference that the police have so far arrested 264 people in 17 cases including 76 miscreants involved in attacking the GHQ.

“Those involved in May 9 riots will not be spared and be thoroughly investigated,” the CPO averred, adding that the total number of the miscreants arrested in case number 708 RA Bazar (GHQ case) has increased to 76.

The CPO said that arrests are being made through identification via videos, adding that the person seen spraying petrol in the video has also been arrested while the person who instigated the crowd to move towards the GHQ gate has also been arrested.

The CPO said Ehsan, Abdullah, Idris, Waqas, Ayaz, Qamar-ul-Zaman, Umar, Ali Hussain, Farhadullah, Asmat, Abu Bakr, Qamar Zaman, Sajjad Munir, Nabil, Sadaqat, Noman, Aamir Shahid, Farhad, Shehryar, Lal Shah, Akmal, Adeel, Pirzada Shehbaz, Arshad, Manawar and Syed Qamar were among those who were arrested on identified through using the scientific technique.

He said that during the riots, the Metrobus suffered a loss of Rs800 million.

He said that the police held most of the miscreants on intelligence reports in Rawalpindi, due to which the situation in the city did not deteriorate much.

The CPO said that a special committee headed by SSP (Investigation) Rawalpindi Zunaira Azfar is investigating the cases related to sensitive institutions and also presented the photos of 26 miscreants who attacked the GHQ gate to the media.

According to a case registered by the police, the protesters, who were armed with petrol bombs and batons and led by former provincial law minister Raja Basharat and Khalid Jadoon, also raised slogans against the Pakistan Army.

The protesters stormed GHQ Gate No 1 at the instigation of their leaders after breaking its gate. They broke the windows and doors of the GHQ building and severely damaged the government property inside and outside the building and started fire by throwing petrol bombs.

The accused also set fire and pelted stones at the personnel on duty and spread fear and panic.

The CPO said the Rawalpindi District Police had constituted a special team to investigate the attack on the main gate of the GHQ by violent protesters.

The special investigation team was constituted to probe the attack on the GHQ that would be headed by SSP (Investigation) Zunaira Azfar.

The SDPO Cantt, SDPO City, as well as the SHOs of RA Bazaar, Westridge, and Civil Lines police stations and the In-charge of the Investigation Support Unit, would be part of the committee which would assist in the investigation of the case through technical and human intelligence sources. The investigation team would probe the incident in light of the cases and submit a report.

A case of the attack on the GHQ gate was registered at the RA Bazaar police station. PTI workers, including former provincial minister Raja Basharat, were nominated in the case. Fayyaz Chohan, Wasiq Qayyum and other party leaders and workers were also nominated in cases pertaining to recent violent protests after the arrest of PTI chairman Imran Khan.

Rawalpindi District Police had registered 17 cases over violent protests by the PTI while around 250 party workers were arrested in overall 17 cases.

Nearly 80 party workers were produced before an anti-terrorism court in violent protest cases. All arrested PTI workers were sent to Adiala Jail on 14 days’ judicial remand.

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