One dead, as PTI’s ‘save judiciary’ rally ‘fails’ amid clashes with police

PTI claims worker killed in baton-charge; Police use water canon, tear gas, baton charge to disrupt rally participants
<p>Imran Khan. PHOTO/FILE</p>

Imran Khan. PHOTO/FILE

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) postponed its scheduled rally in Lahore to express solidarity with the judiciary, after its workers clashed with police personnel on The Mall and Canal roads on Wednesday.

While PTI activists hurled stones at the police using catapults, the security force used water canons to disperse the demonstrators.

The police also used batons on the PTI workers, and arrested several of them.

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The clashes took place at the Masjid Chowk on The Mall.

The PTI later alleged that one of its workers had been killed due to police shelling and torture. It said Ali Bilal died in hospital due to violence.

A statement issued by the party said Ali Bilal Zille Shah participated in the PTI’s rally today. In a clash with the police, he was hit by a baton on the head, the party alleged.

The political workers had reached the Mall underpass while pelting stones at the police. In response, police tried to keep the demonstrators at bay through shelling.

After daylong clashes with police, the PTI leadership instructed its workers to peacefully return, and announced to suspend the rally till further orders.

Containers were again installed on the route leading from The Mall underpass to Zaman Park. A heavy police contingent was also present on The Mall.

Sabzazar DSP Sabir Ali Bhutta and other police personnel sustained injuries in the clashes with the PTI workers.

PTI leader and former energy minister Hammad Azhar condemned the arrest and alleged violence from the police.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan was supposed to physically lead a rally in Lahore on Wednesday, first time after he survived bullet shots last year November in Wazirabad.

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However, the Punjab home department has imposed a ban on public rallies in Lahore. The ban - as per notification - will take effect immediately and remain in place for a week.

Police authorities also vowed to arrest Imran Khan in case he will try to lead the rally despite Section 144 on any kind of public gathering in Lahore’s Red Zone. The police officials said that the suspects violated Section 144.

The rally is part of PTI’s electioneering ahead of polls in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Before today, he was addressing the rallies via video link.

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The city administration had also placed containers on road leading to Mall Road with deployment of water cannon which was used to disperse those who had gathered there for arrangements. The police personnel also used batons on the PTI workers and supporters and shattered windshield of vehicles.

Speaking to media, PTI leader Hammad Azhar said that they would announce the next step after consultation with Imran Khan.

He advised the PTI workers to stay calm and peaceful, alleging that Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah wants ‘blood’.

Further, the Pakistan Media and Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has imposed a ban on media channels for coverage of public rallies in Lahore.

PTI chairman Imran Khan in a tweet questioning the capacity of the caretaker setup in Punjab to impose Section 144, terming it ‘assault on rule of law’.

In a tweet, he recalled that after orders of the Supreme Court (SC), there were less than two months left for elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

He asked under what law the caretaker government was brazenly violating the top court’s order.

Since he was ousted from power back in April last year, the ex-prime minister has been nominated in over 70 cases including terrorism, blasphemy and sedition.

Imran Khan

PTI Lahore rally


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