Tuesday April 23, 2024

Police carry out operation at Zaman Park

By Salman Aslam & Arshad Dogar
March 19, 2023

By News Report

LAHORE: The Punjab Police carried out a major operation at former prime minister Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence on Saturday and arrested dozens of PTI workers, hours after he left for Islamabad to appear before a court.

The police conducted the search operation with water cannons, contingents of fully-equipped riot police, lady police and prisoner vans. Anti-encroachment personnel also accompanied the police with heavy machinery.

The operation in Zaman Park ended after the arrest of more than 60 Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers and allegedly recovering assault rifles and a cache of bullets.

The police barged into Khan’s residence after the party chair left his residence for Islamabad to appear before a court in the Toshakhana case against him.

The police and PTI supporters recently fought pitched battles outside the former prime minister’s home in Lahore, wounding several on both sides when the former tried to arrest Khan.

“Section 144 is imposed, you are kindly advised to disperse,” the police said in an announcement before barging into Imran Khan’s residence.

Television footage showed police entering the Khan’s eight-Kanal house after using an excavator to bring down the main iron gate of the house. A number of PTI workers were also taken into custody.

Dozens of armed personnel of the Punjab Police took part in the operation and removed all camps and barricades set up there by PTI workers. The police also claimed to have seized weapons and Molotov cocktails from the residence.

Around 60 workers of the PTI were rounded up. Also, 10 workers and three policemen were injured.

A party leader claimed domestic staff at Zaman Park were also tortured by the cops. He said cook Safeer was taken away by policemen who beat up driver Shaukat and sweeper Ishaq. Their personal belongings, including cash and mobile phones, were also confiscated by the cops.

The Zaman Park remained a battlefield between the PTI workers, the police, and Rangers for two days earlier this week. The PTI workers, however, had foiled the arrest of Imran Khan and the operation was halted under the Lahore High Court’s order earlier this week.

After the operation, Punjab IGP Usman Anwar told a press conference that earlier the police had stopped the operation at Zaman Park because of the LHC order and PSL match. “However, the court didn’t stop us from taking action against those involved in attacking police. Today we launched the operation at noon. We faced resistance from the PTI workers, however, we managed to control the situation and arrested 61 workers,” he said.

The IGP claimed to have recovered 20 rifles, including Kalashnikovs, and petrol bomb bottles, from Khan’s residence. Some bunkers were also built in the Zaman Park area, he said, adding that a case would be registered against Khan in this regard. “The police broke the main gate with an excavator and entered Imran Khan’s house,” the police official said, adding that a curtain had been placed on the broken gate.

The top policeman alleged that his men came under direct fire from Khan’s house. He said the police demolished several camps built outside Khan’s residence, while anti-encroachment crews removed sandbags and other encroachments using heavy machinery. “Azadi Container has also been taken away from Zaman Park,” IGP said.

To a question, he said, the search warrant was issued by the Administrative Judge of the Anti-Terrorism Court, whereas the search operation was launched under section 47 of the Criminal Code.

“During the search, there was a woman officer of inspector rank along with the investigating officer on the court order,” he added.

Meanwhile, Punjab Information Minister Amir Mir said that Molotov cocktails were thrown at police and the operation was launched against elements involved in violent activities.

Punjab’s Caretaker Information Minister Amir Mir said the police operation was launched to clear the Zaman Park area. “Zaman Park has become a no-go area. As many as 10,000 Punjab police took part in the operation to clear it. We had also reports that the members of banned outfits were also residing there.”

Meanwhile, two women lauded the police action, saying their ordeal ended after the removal of barricades. One woman said she could not go to college for days because of the Zaman Park closure. The other woman said she and her family members remained indoors for days and could not go out.

Meanwhile, the PTI on Saturday filed a petition in Lahore High Court (LHC) against police search operation conducted at PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence, allegedly violating the TORs agreed by the provincial administration, police and PTI leadership.The petition was moved by PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry imploring the court to pass directions to chief secretary, IGP Punjab, caretaker chief minister Punjab and others to stop the police operation at Zaman park.

It contended that a brutal and illegal police operation by the use of force and tear gas shelling is underway at the residence of former prime minster Imran Khan, which is a violation of privacy of female citizens, including the wife of the PTI chairman.