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Tuesday May 28, 2024

'Photoshoot': 'Jail Bharo Tehreek' ends with no arrests in Peshawar

"After sitting in prison vans for a few minutes, PTI workers got out of them and no one surrendered themselves," says senior police officer

By Abubakar Saddiq & Rasool Dawar
February 23, 2023
PTI workers gesture in a police van during the partys Jail Bharo Tehreek in Peshawar, on February 23, 2023. — Geo.tv/Abu Bakr Siddiqui
PTI workers gesture in a police van during the party's "Jail Bharo Tehreek" in Peshawar, on February 23, 2023. — Geo.tv/Abu Bakr Siddiqui

PESHAWAR: In apparently an upsetting development for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), none of the party’s leaders or workers voluntarily surrendered themselves to the police as the Peshawar phase of the 'Jail Bharo Tehreek' (court arrest movement) concluded — the city considered as stronghold of the party — on Thursday.

While the police geared up for arrests and appealed to the PTI workers for surrendering themselves to the authorities, none of the members seemingly paid heed to their call.

SP city Abdul Salam Khalid told Geo News that the PTI workers had punctured the tyres of prisoner vans — which were deployed to detain them.

"After sitting in the prison vans for a few minutes, the workers got out of them and no one surrendered themselves," the senior police officer said, highlighting that the party's members sat in the vans for mere photoshoots.

Khalid added that the police would take action against the PTI workers for violating Section 144 (joining unlawful assembly) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

The movement, according to the PTI rationale, aims to counter the "attack on constitutionally-guaranteed fundamental rights" and the "economic meltdown" by the incumbent government".

PTI Lahore President Sheikh Imtiaz had claimed that 47 leaders and workers were arrested on Wednesday, however, police officials said that the number stood at around 80.

Meanwhile, several petitions have been filed in the Lahore High Court (LHC) seeking the recovery of the leaders — including Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Asad Umar, and Swati.

Clashes

At 2pm, workers and leaders gathered at Peshawar's Hashtnagri neighbourhood, where PTI's KP President Pervez Khattak told them that they will be surrendering themselves before the authorities.

Following Khattak's directions, the workers started marching and entered Assembly Chowk, which is situated in the Red Zone.

The police asked the party workers that they could not stage a protest in the area as Section 144 is also imposed. However, this led to a clash between the two sides, which ended shortly.

The workers forced their way through the police personnel stationed over there and reached a nearby jail — where three police vans were deployed.

Former lawmakers Wazir Zara, Ravi Kumar, Fazal Elahi, Malik Liaquat, Arbab Waseem, and other leaders voluntarily surrendered themselves.

Later, they also got off from the vans. But former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser, who was directed by PTI Chairman Imran Khan to surrender himself firs, did not get arrested.

KP's former governor Farman Shah said that the "jails are closed" as the government wants to foil the "Jail Bharo" movement. "We want to surrender ourselves, but the jails are locked."

Party leader Atif Khan said that none of the workers were arrested in today's protest and after the PTI chief's new policy, a new plan of action would be announced soon.

"Selfie show".

As the movement apparently bore no fruit in Peshawar, parties of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) — which is in the government in the centre — came down hard on the PTI.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's (PML-N) provincial spokesperson Aktaryar Wali said that the PTI's court arrest movement was a mere "selfie show".

"Police kept waiting to arrest Pervez Khattak, Mehmood Khan, Asad Qaiser. PTI workers sat in the prisoners' van and got off after taking selfies," Wali said.

PDM's provincial media coordinator Abdul Jalil Jan said that PTI's campaign has "failed". The leadership, he said, that encouraged the workers to go to jail is now failing applications for bail. "Police vehicles kept waiting but the leaders and PTI tigers managed to escape," he added.