Police arrest PTI workers, uproot camps in raid at Imran Khan's Zaman Park home
PTI leaders, workers were booked after clashes with police on March 14 and 15
LAHORE (Dunya News) – Police claimed to have removed illegal camps and barricades, and arrested several PTI workers after it completed search operation at the residence of former prime minister Imran Khan in Zaman Park area of Lahore on Saturday.
Police in a statement said the operation was launched after an anti-terrorism court issued search warrants on Friday. They said a woman police officer was first to enter the house of the PTI chief in line with the orders of the court.
Sources said nearly 10,000 security personnel took part in the grand operation in which camps established by party workers outside Imran Khan’s home and alongside Canal Road were removed by the anti-encroachment teams using bulldozers.
Before entering Zaman Park, police closed Canal Road, Dharampura, Mall Road underpass and other areas by placing shipping containers while internet had also been suspended in the area. Footages showed an anti-encroachment team had removed all camps set up by the PTI workers alongside Canal Road and at Zaman Park. The action has sparked clashes between Imran Khan's supporters and police, leaving seven people including a policeman injured.
Sources said police had arrested 15 workers of the PTI.
Another footage showed police officials entering the residence of the PTI chief by breaking the main gate and later baton-charging the party workers in the lawn of the house.
The latest turbulence comes a couple of days after the Punjab capital saw violent clashes when police tried to arrest Imran Khan in the Toshakhana case. The violent situation came to an end after the Lahore High Court (LHC) barred police from the Zaman Park operation.
On Thursday, the Punjab government and the PTI reached an agreement to defuse ongoing tension simmered when clashes erupted between supporters of Imran Khan and law enforcers during a bid to arrest him.
As per the agreement, the PTI will cooperate with the administration to implement the arrest warrants and search warrants. The political party, the agreement states, will also cooperate with police for investigation in cases registered over clashes occurred on March 14 and 15. It also allowed the law enforcers conducted search operation at Zaman Park in connection with the cases.
Earlier this week, several PTI leaders, including Imran Khan, and party workers were booked in cases for violence at Zaman Park. Police claimed that more than 60 personnel were injured when Imran Khan’s supporters resorted to stone pelting and hurled petrol bombs.
PTI chief has slammed the police action at his residence at Zaman Park, saying his wife Bushra Bibi was alone at home this time.
Meanwhile Punjab police have led an assault on my house in Zaman Park where Bushra Begum is alone. Under what law are they doing this? This is part of London Plan where commitments were made to bring absconder Nawaz Sharif to power as quid pro quo for agreeing to one appointment.— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 18, 2023
Taking to Twitter, he wrote: "Punjab police have led an assault on my house in Zaman Park where Bushra Begum is alone. Under what law are they doing this? This is part of London Plan where commitments were made to bring absconder Nawaz Sharif to power as quid pro quo for agreeing to one appointment".
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) March 18, 2023
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry also condemned the action, saying it was violation of the orders of the Lahore High Court.
Govt Defends Operation
Interim Punjab information minister Amir Mir, in a statement, said the court had not imposed any ban on such action, adding that no one would be allowed to make Zaman Park a no-go area. Mr Mir said the government did not want to conduct the operation in the presence of Imran Khan.
Following the operation, the information minister flanked by Punjab IGP held a joint press conference. The top police officer said the operation was conducted in line with the orders of the high court. He said 61 people were arrested for their involvement in violence and vandalism, adding that weapons and bottles used for petrol bomb were also recovered from Imran Khan’s home.
He said the case was registered against the owner of the property from where illegal weapons were recovered, adding that rule of law will be ensured in the province.
Mr Mir said that public property worth millions of rupees was damaged by the PTI protesters, adding that all the arrested suspects would be produced before the anti-terrorism court.