Monday December 11, 2023

PTI senior leadership voluntarily surrender as 'Jail Bharo Tehreek' kicks off

Imran Khan urges PTI workers to take to streets for "freedom fight"; Qureshi, Swati, Asad Umar surrender

By Web Desk
February 22, 2023
PTI leaders in a prison van during the partys Jail Bharo Tehreek (court arrest movement) in Lahore on February 22, 2023. — Twitter/@PTIOfficial
PTI leaders in a prison van during the party's "Jail Bharo Tehreek (court arrest movement)" in Lahore on February 22, 2023. — Twitter/@PTIOfficial

Senior Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders and workers Wednesday voluntarily surrendered themselves to the police as the party kicked off its 'Jail Bharo Tehreek' — court arrest movement — from Lahore.

Taking to its Twitter handle, the PTI shared that its party’s Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Secretary General Asad Umar, Swati, Omar Cheema and other leaders and workers are being taken to the Kot Lakhpat jail in the police van.

The prisoner’s van earlier reached the Camp Jail where workers chanted slogans and several landed on the van’s roof.

PTI Lahore President Sheikh Imtiaz released the list of his party’s 47 arrested leaders and workers which include Qureshi, Omar Cheema, Senator Swati, Waleed Iqbal, Dr Murad Raas, Muhammad Madni, Ahsan Dogar, Siddique Khan, and Azam Niazi.

However, Lahore police confirmed that the number of people arrested is around 80, including central leaders of the PTI. “The final number of arrestees will be determined later,” they said.

Police said that the PTI members were arrested under Section 3 (power to arrest and detain suspected persons) of the Punjab Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance, adding that the arrested PTI leaders and workers were shifted to Kot Lakhpat Jail.

The police further said: “A case is being registered against those who attacked the Civil Lines Police vehicle and anti-terrorism provisions will be included in the case.”

‘Less than 100 people’

Punjab Interim Information Minister Amir Mir, in an interview with Geo News’ programme Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Saath, said the government made arrangements for more arrests. “These people vandalised and clashed with the police. They will be charged under MPO 3.”

The minister added that less than 100 people have had themselves arrested voluntarily.

Censuring the PTI for causing chaos in the midst of a mega cricket tournament Pakistan Super League’s (PSL) eighth edition, Mir said: “They chose a day when the PSL teams were arriving.”

The minister, while addressing PTI workers, added that their leader is seeking bail from the courts and asking them to get arrested.

“Imran Khan should have first gotten himself arrested and then asked people to follow him. He does not want to get arrested and had named the Jail Bharo movement after [party’s] workers,” he said.

'No space in jail'

Earlier this evening, former PTI minister Hammad Azhar — who was present outside the Camp Jail, said: “We have arrived to have ourselves arrested. They will run out of places [to imprison us]. We have just told a few hundred people for now. They are saying there is no space in jail and have asked us to wait.”

The workers were also seen making TikTok videos. PTI leader Mian Abid also ascended on a police mobile and kicked it while breaking its glass in the process. The politician tried escaping the site, but the police chased and arrested him.

Earlier while kicking off the movement's first phase, PTI's senior leadership reached the Capital City Police Office (CCPO) in Lahore to surrender themselves for arrest.

In their bid to fill the jails after receiving directives from party chairman Imran Khan, PTI's senior leaders and activists have boarded the prison van, with several workers climbing onto the roof of the van.

Other party leaders who climbed onto the police vehicle included former Punjab governor Omar Sarfaraz Cheema.

The party's workers, including women, were also present outside the building and many lay on the road, demanding to be arrested, while some of the workers stepped down the police van and headed toward the city's Charing Cross.

The police, meanwhile, barred everyone including officials from entering the CCPO office. They also clarified that these arrests were entirely voluntary.

“We did not arrest them, they came and sat in the prison van at their own discretion," the police said.

The rationale

Khan encouraged his supporters and party leaders to participate with full strength in the court arrest movement, which he said was "a non-violent protest" against the attack on the party’s fundamental rights and "economic meltdown”.

"Today, we start our Jail Bharo campaign for Haqeeqi Azadi for two main reasons. One, it is a peaceful, non-violent protest against the attack on our constitutionally-guaranteed fundamental rights," Khan wrote on Twitter today.

"Two, it is against the economic meltdown brought on by a cabal of crooks who have money laundered billions in looted wealth and gotten NROs for themselves while crushing the people, especially the poor and middle class, under the burden of spiralling inflation & rising unemployment," he added. 

Separately, to refresh the party workers' zeal for the court arrest movement, Khan released a video message, urging them to “fill up prisons and shatter the idols of fear".

He called on all Pakistanis to join the movement to achieve 'Haqeeqi Azadi'

Khan had announced the 'Jail Bharo Tehreek' earlier this month — in the wake of the coalition government's spree of arrests of key PTI leaders — after apparently running out of options to press the Pakistan Democratic Movement-led government to stop it from “political victimisation”.

Kickstarting 'Jail Bharo' movement

A day earlier, PTI Senior Vice-President Fawad Chaudhry announced that the party will start the court arrest movement with senior party leaders and at least 200 workers in the first phase.

While Qureshi shared that four other PTI leaders, including him, will surrender themselves and if the police didn't arrest them they will make a second attempt from Multan.

"If the election process is started on President Arif Alvi's advice, there will be no need for the court arrest movement," the former foreign minister added.

Fawad had said that Khan has directed the party to kickstart preparations for the upcoming elections. He urged the PTI’s candidates to launch election campaigns in their respective constituencies.

'Political instability'

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, meanwhile, had said that the PTI's court arrest drive was aimed at creating political instability, and a law and order situation in the country.

Chairing a meeting on law and order, he had said the PTI wanted to get media attention by creating drama. "The miscreants should be exposed by presenting evidence of their wrongdoings before the masses," he had added.

In the meeting, it was decided that the miscreants would be arrested and law and order would be ensured in the country at all costs. The arrest of women and poor workers would be avoided, it was decided.

Sanaullah said the record of miscreants would be maintained and their activities would be mentioned in their character certificates.