ISLAMABAD/RAWALPINDI - Over 700 PTI activists were arrested on the charge of stopping police from shifting Asif Butt alias DJ Butt and 100 workers to Adiala Jail by deflating tyres of a prison van on Saturday at Islamabad courts.

Azam Swati, Andaleeb Abbas and hundreds of PTI supporters reached Islamabad courts to stop police from shifting DJ Butt and their 100 activists to Adiala Jail on a 14-day judicial demand. They were picked from various spots in the capital on Friday on the charge of attacking state institutions and violating Section 144.

The activists stopped the police prison van and deflated its tyres after a local court ordered sending 100 activists of PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) to jail on a 14-day judicial remand.

The city police produced PTI and PAT workers, including Asif Butt alias DJ Butt, the sound and music in-charge of Imran Khan’s sit-in, before the court of Magistrate Waqas Ahmad.

As soon as the court ordered judicial remand of the arrested workers, a large number of PTI activists and leaders, including KP President Azam Swati, MNA Arif Alvi and Andaleeb Abbas. They surrounded the police van to prevent it from moving ahead and chanted anti-government slogans. The PTI workers also deflated tyres of the police van carrying the arrested workers to prevent it from leaving the court.

A heavy contingent of police reached the district courts, F-8 Markaz, to control the situation. Acting IGP Tahir Alam Khan, SSP Operation Mirwaiz Niaz and other senior officials of police were also present on the occasion.

“The activists of PTI interfered with the government work,” IGP Tahir Alam told reporters on the occasion amid full throat anti-government slogans by political activists.

The police arrested Azam Swati along with other workers and shifted them to Margalla police station after he refused to ask the protesting PTI activists to disperse. The police sources said a case had been registered against Azam Swati on the charge of interfering with the government work and inciting violence.

Earlier, Acting IGP Tahir Alam Khan warned the protesters would be arrested if they did not leave the court premises. He said it was the duty of police to disperse a crowd that violated Section 144. He directed the police not to use force against the protesters.

Later, the police shifted the arrested people to another van and shifted them to Adiala Jail.

Speaking on the occasion, PTI MNA Arif Alvi termed the detention of workers illegal and said it would not force his party to change its stance. Alvi claimed the police had arrested hundreds of PTI activists and sent them to Adiala Jail without producing them in the court. He urged the authorities to show the court order otherwise PTI workers would break the door of the prison van.

PTI Vice President Naz Baloch, using social media, condemned the police action. “PTI workers were arrested from homes and guesthouses. They were also tortured. Join protest near Margalla police station at 4:30pm,” she posted a tweet.

Meanwhile, the late night and unannounced imposition of Section 144 in the Rawalpindi city by the DCO pained thousands of motorcyclists and the PTI workers who were rounded up by the law-enforcement agencies from almost every nook and corner of the city.

The police registered cases against dozens of motorcyclists under Section 144 for defying the ban on pillion riding. They also booked PTI workers for gathering in a large number. Many people accused the cops of taking bribes from them.

According to sources, the Rawalpindi DCO announced imposition of Section 144 late night and most of the citizens were not aware of it. In the morning, the citizens were going to offices, schools and workplaces when the police impounded their motorcycles and confined them in lockups, besides filing cases against them. The areas controlled by Cantt, City, Waris Khan, Gunjmandi, Gawalmandi, Civil Lines, Sadiqabad, Ratta Amral, Pir Wadhai and New Town police stations became a no-go zone for the citizens as the police impounded motorcycles of thousands of the citizens from these places.

Rawalpindi PTI District President Arif Abbasi told reporters on Saturday the police had arrested more than 400 workers of PTI on Saturday morning when they were returning from the sit-in being staged in Islamabad. He said all the detainees had been shifted to unknown locations. He protested the unlawful action of the police and the government.

People rushed to the police stations for the release of their innocent sons, brothers and relatives, but the police refused to free the detainees and asked them to go to court for their bails. “What is happening to the poor motorcyclists on in the city? What crime had we committed and why are we being punished?” said 70-year-old Hameed Abbasi whose grandson was detained by Civil Lines police. The DCO and the RPO were not available for comments.