Police drive PTI leaders, workers to prisons after they volunteer arrest

Police drive PTI leaders, workers to prisons after they volunteer arrest


Qureshi urges masses to break shackles of fear and venture out

LAHORE (Dunya News) – The Lahore police teams on Wednesday drove senior Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders and a number of workers to jails minutes after they courted arrest while honouring the call of party supremo Imran Khan. 

PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi was the first to have courted arrest as part of party's “Jail Bharo” movement. Reports said police put the PTI vice chairman in the prison van. Later, other leaders including Zubair Niazi, Asad Umar and Azam Swati sat in the prison van by themselves. Omar Sarfraz Cheema and others also surrendered themselves while Hammad Azhar sat atop a vehicle ostensibly to get media glare. 

Police said they were carrying the PTI leaders and workers to the Kot Lakhpat and Camp jails but they could not tell whether those arrested would be put behind the bars. Earlier, it was stated that no prison in Lahore had the capacity to keep a number of political workers.

Taking to Twitter, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said many PTI leaders and workers including Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Asad Umar and Ejaz Chaudhry had surrendered themselves for the arrest. He said the sea of people had created panic among policemen.

Fawad lauded the PTI workers for their response, saying the movement would move forward to Peshawar tomorrow (Thursday). 

Mr Qureshi, while speaking from inside the police van, said: “I am ‘happy and satisfied’, and I urge the masses to break the shackles of fear and venture out.”

Hours earlier, supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) started gathering at Zaman Park, the residence of party chairman Imran Khan in Lahore, to kickstart the movement in a bid to push for elections and register protest against economic instability and crackdown on party leaders and workers. Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Asad Umar had decided to court arrest on the first day of the movement. Accordingly, Mr Qureshi addressed the workers on Jail Road and asked them to be ready for a great cause the PTI has been pursuing.

He said Imran Khan had stopped him from offering arrest but he would reach Charing Cross and court arrest as he was a prominent leader and supposed to lead from the front. 

As hundreds of PTI activists began their journey toward Mall Road, several roads witnessed a traffic jam and the party supporters seemed enthusiastic. The party leaders announced that they had made the event a momentous occasion.   

A key meeting was earlier held by the governing body of the PTI’s Central Punjab wing to finalise the strategy for the movement. Peshawar will witness the launch of movement on Feb 23 while it will start in Multan on Feb 25, Gujranwala on Feb 26, Sargodha on Feb 27 and Sahiwal on Feb 28. It will hit Faisalabad city on March 1. 

The social media handles of the party remained busy in motivating the supporters for the drive as messages from party leaders were shared from time to time. Mr Khan, in a video message a day earlier, urged the supporters to "fill up the prisons and break the idols of fears".

Also Read: Imran says 'Jail Bharo' movement aims at countering violation of fundamental rights, economic meltdown

This is the latest strategy of the PTI after it staged a long march and held rallies in multiple cities following the ouster of Imran Khan as prime minister through a no-confidence vote in April last.

Senator Ejaz Chaudhry, who is the focal person of the drive, seemed confident about the success of the movement. He said 200 volunteers would offer the arrest, adding that more than 2,000 people had signed up for the drive.

Read More: PTI big guns Qureshi, Asad to spearhead 'Jail Bharo Movement'

The former prime minister during his address on Feb 17 to party supporters from his Zaman Park residence via video link had announced launch of the 'Jail Bharo Tehreek'. Imran Khan had said the PTI would start filling the jails in all major cities with every passing day and asked the nation to get their rights from the rulers and not to be afraid of them. 

He also took to Twitter and explained that the movement was meant for two main reasons. "One, it is a peaceful, non-violent protest against the attack on our constitutionally-guaranteed fundamental rights. We are facing sham FIRs and NAB cases, custodial torture, attacks on journalists and social media people," he said.


Also Read: Parvez Elahi embraces PTI...

A day earlier, former Punjab chief minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leader Chaudhry Parvez Elahi joined the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) along with his 10 aides ahead of the launch of the court arrest drive. The announcement was made after PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat sacked him as the party's Punjab president and revoked his basic membership.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Elahi said he would always support the former prime minister and would not do anything that would harm the party.

Government’s Reaction

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Tuesday said the PTI’s “Jail Bharo” drive was aimed at creating political instability, and law and order situation in the country. Chairing a meeting on law and order, he said the PTI wanted to get media attention by creating a drama through the 'court arrest drive.' The miscreants should be exposed by presenting evidence of their wrongdoings before the masses, he added.

The meeting, which was attended by Secretary Interior Yusuf Naseem, home secretaries and inspectors general of Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police, besides others, gave a detailed briefing to the minister on the law and order, especially in the wake of 'court arrest drive.' The meeting decided that the miscreants would be arrested and the law and order would be ensured in the country at all costs. The arrest of women and poor workers would be avoided, he added.

Section 144 imposed in Lahore for seven days

Earlier this week, the caretaker Punjab government imposed Section 144 in Lahore for seven days with immediate effect, citing terror threat and beginning of the PSL-8 matches in the city, Dunya News reported.

However, the development comes after the PTI announced the court arrest drive. As per the notification, the Punjab government imposed Section 144 in three areas of Lahore - Main Boulevard Gulberg, the Mall Road (from Mian Mir Bridge to Istanbul Chowk) and Civil Secretariat and its adjacent roads. All kinds of protests, corner meetings, jalsas, public gatherings, processions, dharnas and such other activities in the aforementioned areas are banned under Section 144 (6) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898.