Punjab forms committee to probe Lahore clashes between police, PTI workers

LAHORE: The Punjab government has formed an inquiry committee to ascertain facts about the incidents of police clashes with workers of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in Lahore.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan said on Wednesday that one of its workers was killed after police launched a crackdown on those participating in the party’s rally following the imposition of Section 144.

The party had planned to kick start its election campaign on Wednesday with a rally from Zaman Park to Data Darbar. However, it later put off the campaign until Saturday but dedicated the rally to the judiciary.

Before the start of the rally, the Punjab government imposed Section 144 in Lahore for seven days with immediate effect, banning rallies, processions and gatherings in the provincial capital due to security reasons.

Soon after the imposition of the Section 144, police started detaining PTI workers and closed roads leading to the Zaman park to block the rally. The things turned sour when police officials resorted to tear gas shelling, water canons and baton charge to disperse the participants from gathering for the rally.

Later the PTI chief called off the rally and claimed that party worker Ali Bilal was “murdered by Punjab police”. The official Twitter handle of the PTI also shared a video showing Mr Bilal and other PTI workers inside a police van, claiming that the party workers was killed during police custody.

A spokesperson of the Punjab government rejected the claims of custodial killing, saying the purported videos were not from Wednesday’s incident but the ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’ (court arrest movement).

In latest development, the Punjab police has formed a committee comprising DIG Elite Police Force Sadiq Ali and SSP IAB Imran Kishwar.

“In order to ascertain facts, ensure transparency and find out the reason for loss of life and property during the events on 8th March 2023, the Inspector General of Police, Punjab has ordered a fact finding enquiry into the incidents of police clashes with workers of a political party in Lahore,” reads the notification.

The fact-finding enquiry should address following terms of reference:

i. The circumstances and situation that led to gathering of political workers. What was the legal status of this assembly?

ii. What circumstances led to the clashes between police and workers of political party? What were the timings for the start and end of the clashes?

ii. How many protesters and police officers got injured?

iv. What were the circumstances that led to the death of Bilal Ali?

v. When and where the deceased Bilal All die?

vi. Was Bilal Ali in police custody, as reported on social media?

vii. Who took the deceased Bilal All to the Hospital and what was the registration number of the vehicle? Did the persons who brought him to the hospital take him to the medical team and disclose their whereabouts and from where was the deceased picked?

“The enquiry team will gather statements of witness and all possible CCTV footages and video clips of the incident and submit its report within three days to Inspector General of Police, Punjab.”

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