LAHORE - City police on Saturday registered terrorism cases against more than 25 leaders of Pakistan Muslim League-N including former prime minister, chief minister, and federal ministers for leading protest rallies in Lahore on Friday.
Police sources said at least 12 cases were registered against more than 800 workers of PML-N at different police stations in Lahore. Over two dozen PML-N leaders including women activists are also nominated as accused persons in the FIRs.
The move comes after week-long police crackdown on political activists throughout the Punjab province. Earlier, police sent more than 140 political workers to jail for one month period under Punjab Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance.
Ex-PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, PML-N President and former Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif, his son Hamza Shehbaz, senior politician Javed Hashmi, Sardar Ayyaz Sadiq, and Raja Zafar-ul-Haq were also booked under anti-terrorism act.
The other leaders nominated in the FIRs included Saira Afzal Tarrar, Uzma Bukhari, Maryam Orangzaib, Haji Hanif, Kamram Michal, Lahore’s Mayor Col (retired) Mubashir, Kabeer Taj, Musaddaq Malik, Bilal Yasin, Ghazali Saleem Butt, Waheed Alam Khan, Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rahman, Tallal Chaudhry, Mian Akhlaq, Malik Waheed, Munir Shah, Khawaja Salman Rafique, Talha Barki, Ahsan Sharafat, and Rana Inam Ullah.
The cases were filed under section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act and section 324/ 440/ 353/ 186/ 188/ 291/ 290/ 506/ 148/ 149 of the PPC, 16 MPO, and the Punjab Sound System Regulation Act 2015. The cases were registered at different police stations located in the limits of City, Cantonment, Sadar, Iqbal Town, and Civil Lines police divisions.
Many PML-N leaders on Friday took out rallies to welcome ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam hours before they landed at the Lahore airport. The PML-N had given a call to workers to come out to receive their leaders at the airport. On Friday afternoon, a large numbers of supporters gathered at Lohari Gate from where Shehbaz Sharif led the rally towards the airport.
Former PM Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz were arrested Friday night minutes after their landing at Lahore airport. Then, they were sent to jail in Rawalpindi.
The former PM and his daughter were convicted by an accountability court in the Avenfield corruption reference and handed jail sentences. Maryam’s husband Cap (r) Safdar, who was sentenced to one year in jail in the same case for abetment, is already in Adiala Jail.
A police spokesman said that five policemen including a DSP-rank officer were injured during clashes which erupted at Joray Pull late Friday. Similarly, three policemen were injured in clashes near Suggian Bridge while seven others were wounded as police and protesters clashed near Ravi Toll Plaza. The injured police were under medical treatment at different public hospitals in Lahore.
Clashes broke out at Ravi Bridge, Joray Pull, Airport Road, Bhatta Chowk, and Shera Kot when anti-riot units of police attempted to break up the PML-N rallies from moving towards the airport. Police also fired tear-gas shells to disperse protesters who pelted cops with stones.
According to police, no less than 800 persons were mentioned in the FIRs as unidentified men. They were booked by police under the law for attacking policemen, creating law and order situation, damaging public property and violating the section 144 imposed by the city district government to bar protesters from reaching towards the airport.
Meanwhile, similar cases were registered against Rana Sanaullah, Mian Mannan, Rana Afzal, Malik Nawaz, Malik Nadeem Kamran and seven PML-N chairmen in Faisalabad and Sahiwal districts.
Earlier, police raided PML-N’s election offices and corner meetings and arrested dozens of workers including chairmen, vice chairmen, and councilors of different union councils. They were sent to jail for one month period on Thursday morning.
On Friday, anti-riot units were deployed on all important roads and crossings in Lahore. Similarly, the police patrolling units including the Dolphins Squads, Police Response Units, and Quick Response were on armed patrolling in the sensitive and most sensitive areas.
The PML-N workers smashed the windowpanes of a police bus in Sabzazar. Later, they were seen flying party flags onto the police bus. Rescue workers said at least six policemen were injured during clashes at the Ravi Bridge. Several PML-N workers also received injuries during clashes at Bhatta Chowk, Joray Pull, Ravi Bridge, and Chungi Amarsidhu.
More than 1100 PML-N workers were arrested during police crackdown since late Wednesday. Most of the arrests were made in Lahore, Gujranwala, Okara, Sahiwal, Kasur, Sheikhupra, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, and Sialkot districts.
The caretaker government Thursday seized scores of containers from parts of the metropolis to bar PML-N workers from reaching the airport. The containers, placed on all the entry and exit points, virtually disconnected the provincial capital from other parts of the country.
The Punjab government had arranged for stopping them and slowing down on the way. The major party rally that could reach only at the Regal Chowk – several kilometers away from the airport – by the time the top party leaders were arrested and flown off. After midnight the PML-N president announced its termination at Dharampura underpass.
Caretaker Punjab Home Minister Shaukat Javed had told a news conference in the afternoon that Abdullah Gull Interchange was the point beyond which nobody would be allowed to go for security reasons. He warned anybody who tried to cross that red line, would be dealt with sternly.
As part of the security strategy, authorities also suspended mobile phone services in the morning across the metropolis. The service was not restored till late Friday. Hundreds of more workers were also arrested by police during Punjab-wide crackdown on Friday as they violated the section 144 to teach Lahore airport.