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LAHORE: Police registered six first information reports (FIRs) and arrested 12 suspects for carrying illegal weapons and trying to sabotage the peaceful process of by-elections on 20 Punjab Assembly seats in the provincial capital on Sunday, police said.

Giving breakdown of the arrests and registration of the cases, police said they arrested eight suspects from Saddar Division after registration of two FIRs and four persons from Model Town Division after registration of four FIRs.

According to police, a car in which five suspects were seated was intercepted by a police team near Khokhar Chowk, and during the checking a 9mm illegal pistol along with eight live bullets was seized from their possession and they were subsequently arrested.

Meanwhile, a police team also arrested three suspects during the checking at a picket near Valencia Town and seized from their possession two rifles (223 and 44-bore) along with 240 live bullets. In the Model Town Division, the police said they confiscated four different types of illegal pistols from four suspects, who were wanted to sabotage the peaceful election process.

Taking notice of sporadic brawls between political workers and supporters at different constituencies in Lahore and severe criticism by PTI leaders of its “failure” to conduct a transparent election, a spokesperson for the electoral body said they received six complaints related to fights between voters and political workers, out of which three were resolved immediately, and that the authorities are taking steps to control the situation.

In a statement, Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja said that strict action will be taken against those involved in creating issues in the election process and that if candidates participate in such acts “they may also be disqualified”.

Home Minister and Spokesperson for the Punjab government Attaullah Tarar has also taken notice of a dispute that broke out in PP-158 Lahore. He claimed that PTI leaders Jamshed Iqbal Cheema and Saeed Mahis had seriously injured a PML-N worker as he issued orders for the PTI leaders’ arrests.

He said the police also arrested PTI worker Rana Naeem for causing a head injury to a PML-N worker at an irrigation canal polling station.

In the same constituency, a fight also broke out between PTI and PML-N workers at the UC Dharmapura polling station. The PTI polling agent accused the police of bias and said that “the police is allowing PML-N workers to enter, while I am being stopped despite the fact that I am a polling agent,” as he explained why the brawl had broken out.

Voters in the same constituency complained of voting area alterations. They also accused the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) of willfully changing their votes to other constituencies. Moreover, the polling was also halted in PP-168 for some time following agitation between PTI and PML-N workers. PTI’s candidate Malik Nawaz Awan also visited the polling station as reports of voters being prevented from entering polling station 60 surfaced.

An armed person identified as Abdul Rehman was also arrested in front of the Basti Syedan Shah polling station of Lahore. The accused was a private guard of a local citizen named Dr Maarif and a mini-rifle was recovered from his possession.

Meanwhile, PML-N leader Khawaja Saad Rafique accused the PTI of attempting “to stop polling by inciting violence, spreading fear and firing”. In a tweet, he claimed that the “PTI’s armed goons” had been “arrested along with ammunition” in Lahore.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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