Lahore’s Zaman Park under siege after clashes between police and supporters of Imran Khan – Times of India

LAHORE: Tear gas canisters, burnt tires and vehicles litter the roads in Lahore Zaman Park area that was subsequently turned into a battlefield followers of Imran Khan engaged in more than 11 hours of battles with police personnel to stop them from arresting the deposed Pakistani prime minister, injuring dozens of police officers.
Pakistani workers of Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and police clashed in Lahore’s Zaman Park area on Tuesday after a contingent of Islamabad police along with armored vehicles stormed the house of party chief Khan in Lahore reached to arrest him after a warrant failed to release bail. in the ongoing Toshakhana (gift depository) case against him.
“Obviously the ‘arrest’ claim was just a drama as the real intent is to kidnap and kill. With tear gas and water cannons they have now resorted to live fire. I signed a bond last night but the DIG refused to even go into it. There is no doubt about their malicious intentions,” Khan tweeted on Wednesday.
Police, in their riot gear and backed by Rangers, raided the home of 70-year-old Khan to comply with court orders to arrest him in the Toshakhana case.
Fearing the worst, several PTI leaders, including Khan himself, appealed to party operatives to rush to Zaman Park, where they acted as human shields and stood between Khan’s residence and the police.
Police fired tear gas grenades, but met resistance and found PTI workers undeterred.
“After our workers and leaders faced police attacks of tear gas, chemical water cannons, rubber bullets and live bullets this morning since yesterday morning; now Rangers have taken over and are now in direct confrontation with the people,” Khan tweeted.
“My question to the establishment, to those who claim to be ‘neutral’: is this your idea of ​​neutrality, Rangers directly confronting unarmed protesters and membership in the largest police force when their LDR faces an illegal warrant and a case that is already in court and when reign of thugs trying to kidnap and possibly kill him?” he wrote Wednesday.
For more than 11 hours, PTI workers engaged the capital’s police in battles that continued well into the night.
As night fell in Lahore, the PTI workers had gained the upper hand – not only had it opened more fronts in the city, the influx of large numbers of supporters into Zaman Park forced security men to retreat. By midnight, police had claimed about 30 victims, the Dawn newspaper reported on Wednesday.
At a late-night meeting convened by Mohsin Naqvi, the interim chief minister of Punjab to take stock of the security situation in the provincial capital, it was decided to make another attempt to detain the PTI chief and call off the operation before morning. laps.
To put the plan in motion, fresh police units and Rangers took up positions on The Mall in the early hours of Wednesday, the report said.
This is the second time in less than 10 days that police have arrived in Zaman Park to arrest the deposed prime minister.
Speaking to the BBC, Khan said police came “suddenly” to arrest him without informing him.
“We saw on the news that the police came to arrest me,” he said.
“I’m mentally totally prepared to spend my night in a cell and I don’t know how many nights. I’m totally prepared for that. But I think they’re determined.” [this time] and they want me behind bars,” he said, according to Geo News.
In a late-night tweet, PTI leader Asad Umar said the president of the Lahore High Court Bar Association had assured that Khan would appear in court on March 18.
In light of the commitment, there was “no justification” for the police operation, he added.
In a video message on Tuesday, Khan asked his supporters to “come out” to fight for real freedom and continue the fight even if he is killed or arrested. “They (the government) think that after my arrest the nation will fall asleep. You have to prove them wrong,” he said in the video.
“God has given me everything, and I’m fighting this battle for you. I’ve been fighting this battle all my life, and I will continue to do so.
“If something happens to me and I am sent to prison or if I am killed, you must prove that you will fight without Imran Khan and will not accept the enslavement of these thieves and of the only person who made decisions for the country . ,” he said.
The Zaman Park standoff has sparked protests across the country, with several cities seeing protests by PTI workers.
In Islamabad, at least four police officers were injured and more than two dozen supporters of the former ruling were detained after protests erupted in various parts of the federal capital, resulting in blockades across the city.
A series of organized and sporadic protests broke out in Karachi, with Pakistani Tehreek-e-Insaf workers blocking roads and disrupting traffic in various parts of the city.
Shortly after Khan’s speech, protests also erupted in Peshawar, Faisalabad, Sargodha, Vehari, Quetta and Mianwali.
The PTI has stated that it will not let law enforcement authorities arrest Khan because it fears he may be poisoned while in prison.
Khan is in his crosshairs for buying gifts, including an expensive Graff wristwatch that he had been given at a discounted price by the state custodian named Toshakhana as prime minister, and sold it for a profit.
On Monday, the Lahore Khan Police booked a case related to the murder of the PTI employee – Ali Bilal alias Zille Shah – in a road accident.
Earlier, Lahore Police had registered an FIR against Khan and 400 others for Shah’s murder.
This is the 81st FIR against Khan since the PML-N-led federal coalition came to power 11 months ago after overthrowing his government through a vote of no confidence.
Khan was removed from power last April after losing a vote of no confidence, which he says was part of a US-led conspiracy against him for his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.
Since his ouster, Khan has called for early elections to oust what he called an “imported government” led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
Sharif has maintained that elections will be held later this year once parliament has completed its five-year term.

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