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LAHORE: To restrict the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) activists from joining the ‘Azadi March’ in Islamabad, the Punjab government while calling in Punjab Rangers to maintain public order has intensified its crackdown and allegedly picked up over 300 party supports after the killing of a policeman during a search operation in Lahore’s Model Town area on Monday night.

Talking to the media outside a hospital, Deputy Inspector General of Police (Operations) Sohail Chaudhry said Constable Kamal Ahmad was killed during a search operation in Model Town after an unidentified person opened fire on him.

Without naming any political party, the senior police officer said the police were taking actions against activists who were “taking the law into their own hands”. He said that a bullet hit the upper part of the constable’s chest which was a very critical area. “A lot of effort was made to save him but when we reached the hospital, he succumbed to his wounds.”

It may be mentioned that the raid coincided with the post-midnight police crackdown on PTI leaders’ residences ahead of the party’s planned long march to Islamabad today (Wednesday).

An FIR registered at Model Town police station on Tuesday does not mention the search operation was linked to the raids on PTI leaders but it does identify the alleged shooter. According to it, a police party, during a search operation in Model Town, rang the doorbell of one Hussain’s house at 1:40am.

PTI’s ‘Azadi March’: govt decides to seal off Islamabad’s ‘Red Zone’

Shortly afterwards, two ‘armed people’, identified as Sajid Hussain and Ikrama Bukhari, appeared on the terrace and Hussain asked in a ‘threatening tone’ why they (police) had come to his house late at night, it said. The police team responded that they were conducting a search operation regarding tenancy. However, Hussain and his son became angry and started ‘threatening the officials with dire consequences’, reads the FIR.

It adds that Hussain asked his son Ikrama to fire straight at the police party. “Bukhari, with the intention of killing, fired straight at the police party and a bullet struck the chest of Constable Kamal Ahmad, who was standing outside the house and died instantly,” it further states.

The FIR was registered under Sections 302 (murder), 34 (common intention), 324 (attempt to murder), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 427 (causing damage) of the Pakistan Penal Code, and Section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act.

Later in the day, the police arrested both Hussain and his son Bukhari. There were also reports of late-night police action at the homes of former federal minister Hammad Azhar in Lahore while the Lal Haveli residence of Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and the homes of Fayyazul Hasan Chohan and Ijaz Khan Jazi in Rawalpindi were also raided.

Videos circulating on social media also showed policemen raiding the homes of other PTI Punjab-based leaders, including Usman Dar, Malik Waqar Ahmed, Kashif Kharal, Mazhar Iqbal Gujjar, Waleed Iqbal and others. Former information minister Fawad Chaudhry in a tweet also claimed that his Islamabad residence was under observation due to which he left for Jhelum.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz and Punjab IGP Rao Sardar Ali Khan and other senior police command offered funeral prayers of deceased constable Kamal Ahmed at Police Lines Qila Gujjar Singh.

Talking to the media on the occasion alongside a minor son of the constable, the chief minister claimed that the killing of Kamal Ahmed was the result of “hatred spread by PTI chairman Imran Khan against institutions”. He has also summoned a meeting to review the law and order situation in the province which will look at the existing measures to ensure protection of the lives and belongings of the public as well as further steps to maintain peace.

Meanwhile, the Punjab government while imposing section-144 has called in Punjab Rangers to maintain law and other situation. According to sources, the LEAs have allegedly picked up over 300 PTI supporters from various parts of Punjab and also sealed entry and exit points of the city with containers.

To avoid any untoward situation, the government also partially suspended the metro bus service and decided to keep the cellular service suspended in selective parts of the city, especially on routes where restrictions have been placed.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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