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LAHORE: Announcing the formation of a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the torture on police personnel by the PTI workers in Lahore over the last week, Punjab caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi has criticised the PTI chairman Imran Khan’s conduct and made it clear if he (Imran) did not trust the police, the security provided to him could be withdrawn.

While addressing a news conference on Monday, the CM said, “The JIT will investigate the incidents within six to seven days. We would not let this happen that the policemen kept suffering beating at the hands of political vandals.”

The CM said he had given the provincial police chief full powers so that he could do what he deemed appropriate. “I won’t interfere in between,” he said. “No political party reacted the way it [PTI] did during its protest. In every condition, we have to establish writ of the government.”

The CM maintained that the police had been told to take legal action wherever it was necessary. “I assured them that if anyone resorts to violence, they will get a stern reply. Political activity is your right but no one can react this aggressively,” he said while referring to the protesters.

To a query, he said, “The police personnel could not offer protection to someone who verbally abuses them at night and expects the same force to safeguard him.” He said the provincial government had also decided to write a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) about the Zaman Park incidents.

“We will give Rs100,000 to each policeman who sustained minor injuries while Rs500,000 will be doled out to each who suffered major injuries.”

It may be noted that on Saturday, heavy machinery was used by the Punjab police to break into the Zaman Park residence soon after the PTI chairman left for Islamabad to attend a hearing in the Toshakhana case. The PTI workers clashed with police personnel while trying to stop them from entering the former PM’s house when they reached there.

Expressing concern over protesters beating up police personnel and law enforcers, CM Naqvi said the law enforcement personnel had exercised patience in handling these situations. However, he warned, that the police would now respond to any mistreatment in a similar manner.

“I am standing by my police. If someone lays his hand on them, we will break his hand,” he said. “We got pictures of those involved in these incidents of terrorism; the PTI activists also threw the vehicle of Elite Force into the canal.”

To a query about extending relief to poor masses during Ramazan, he said free wheat flour was being supplied at thousands of distribution centres throughout Punjab. So far over 800,000 flour bags had been distributed. “Every family will be given three flour bags,” he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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