Police, Rangers halt operation to arrest Imran Khan

LHC orders police to stop operation until 10:00 am Thursday: Pitched battles fought in Zaman Park: 54 policemen including DIG Islamabad, DPO Sheikhupura injured: Fresh police, PTI workers pelt stones, petrol bombs on law-enforcers: Police do not yet breach gate or wall of Imran’s house: PTI chief says authorities have no justification for this action: Internet service suspended: Traffic police’s office on Mall Road torched

By: News Desk
Published: 09:11 AM, 15 Mar, 2023
 Police, Rangers halt operation to arrest Imran Khan
Caption: Supporters of former prime minister Imran Khan try to stop riot police scuffle outside his Zaman Park residence in Lahore.–AFP
Stay tuned with 24 News HD Android App
Get it on Google Play

Police and Rangers personnel appeared Wednesday to have given up an attempt to arrest PTI Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan, ending a siege of his residence after violent clashes with hundreds of his supporters, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

Correspondents and witnesses near Imran Khan's home in the plush Zaman Park said police and Rangers had retreated after abandoning a series of roadblocks and checkpoints.

"The police and Rangers sent to harm Imran Khan were pushed back by the people," PTI tweeted, along with video of supporters celebrating outside his house. "More people are coming to Zaman Park and will never let the evil intentions of this imported government succeed, God willing."

LHC orders halt to operation

The Lahore High Court has ordered a halt to the police operation being carried out at Zaman Park in Lahore to arrest Imran Khan.

Taking up a petition against the police operation, LHC’s Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh ordered the police to stop its action until 10:00am Thursday and adjourned the hearing for tomorrow.

Punjab Chief Secretary Zahid Akhtar Zaman, IGP Punjab Dr Usman Anwar and Punjab advocate general appeared in the court. DIG Security Kamran Adil was also present.

The LHC judge directed to police to stay 500 metres back at Canal Bridge on Mall Road, Dharampura Bridge and Thandi Sarak.

Pitched battles fought

Police had fought pitched battles with Imran Khan's supporters throughout the night, firing fusillades of teargas and dodging rocks thrown by angry crowds.

Groups of police were seen running in disarray from the direction of the house Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier, supporters of Imran Khan clashed repeatedly with police overnight and on Wednesday morning as he remained holed up in his Zaman Park residence in Lahore, defying attempts by police to arrest him.

Heavy heavy contingents of police and Rangers fought pitched battles with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf workers near Imran Khan’s house throughout the night, firing fusillades of teargas and dodging stones thrown by angry crowds.

The PTI workers also hurled rocks, petrol bombs and used batons against the law-enforcers including the Rangers personnel who were called to back up the police force leading the action.

In the latest development, after fierce clashes with PTI workers, the police and Rangers personnel managed to reach outside Imran Khan’s residence in Zaman Park.

Fresh police and Rangers reinforcements backed by water canon, armoured personnel carrier and other vehicles were on the move in Zaman Park.

PTI workers set ablaze traffic police’s office

The agitated workers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Wednesday set ablaze a sector office of Lahore traffic police on Mall Road.

All the equipment in the office was burnt to ashes.

The motorcycles of Lahore traffic police were set on fire. All the record and computers in the office were also burnt in the fire.

Home Department rules out halt

Punjab Home Department has ruled out any halt to the operation launched to arrest Imran Khan.

The Home Department made it crystal clear that the operation will not be stopped until Imran Khan is arrested.

54 cops injured in clashes outside Zaman Park

As many as 54 policemen and eight PTI workers have so far been injured in clashes outside the Zaman Park, Lahore after operation began to arrest former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan yesterday (March 14, 2023).  

Of these 54 police personnel who had been brought to the Services Hospital, 48 were discharged after the provision of first aid, while three are still admitted at the hospital. 

Three policemen were shifted to Mayo Hospital.

Meanwhile, DIG Islamabad has been discharged from the hospital. 

Earlier, according to IGP Punjab Dr Anwar Usman, as many as 50 police officers including DIG Operations Islamabad Syed Shahzad Nadeem Bukhari, SP Model Town Lahore Ammara Shiraz and DPO Sheikhupura Zahid Nawaz were injured in clashes with the PTI activists.

Fresh reinforcements of police, elite force and Rangers reached at Zaman Park on Wednesday with authorities suspending the internet service in the areas.

PTI workers during their action broke side fences and lights, and also destroyed roadside plants on Mall Road. They also set on fire motorbikes of traffic wardens, water cannon and a fire tender.

PTI baton-wielding workers also threw stones at Rangers personnel, blocked the canal bridge on Mall Road from both sides.

On Wednesday morning hundreds of PTI supporters had ringed Imran Khan's residence in the plush neighbourhood, holding off at least one fresh attempt by police to storm the premises.

Groups of PTI supporters also marched in Karachi and Peshawar, blocking roads with bonfires. 

Imran Khan video message

Imran Khan issued a video shortly before dawn, sitting in front of national and PTI flags at a desk decorated with spent teargas canisters.

"I am telling the entire nation today that they are ready once again, they're going to come again," he said. "They will teargas our people and do other such things, but you should know that they have no justification to do so."

Video circulating on social media -- much distributed by official PTI accounts -- showed several bloodied supporters and others struggling to cope with tear gas.

A PTI official tweeted that there was "an urgent need" for first aid kits at the Zaman Park neighbourhood.

A party account also showed video of teargas canisters landing inside Imran Khan's garden, but police did not appear to breach the gate or the wall.

Imran Khan was ousted from office by a no-confidence vote last year, and has been snarled in a series of legal cases as he campaigns for early elections and a return to office.

"The way the police attack our people... there is no precedent for this," Imran Khan said, adding "Water canons, teargas... they shelled inside the house where there were servants and women."

It is the second time in recent weeks that police have been sent from Islamabad to Imran Khan's home in Lahore to serve an arrest warrant after he skipped several court dates linked to a corruption case citing security concerns.

"We are here basically to execute the warrants and to arrest him," Syed Shahzad Nadeem Bukhari, deputy inspector general of Islamabad police, told reporters outside PTI chief’s residence yesterday.

Officers were met by hundreds of Imran Khan supporters, some wielding sticks and hurling stones, draped in the red-and-green PTI flags.

Police fired a water cannon and tear gas on the crowds as they attempted to clear a path to Imran Khan's house, holding signs plastered with the arrest warrant for the 71-year-old opposition leader.

PTI deputy leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters on Tuesday that "we want to be peaceful".

Qureshi insisted police should deliver the arrest warrant to him and said he would "try to find a solution to avoid bloodshed".

Imran Khan has been summoned to court to answer accusations he did not declare gifts received during his time as prime minister, or the profit made from selling them.

The first attempt officers made to detain the onetime cricket superstar was thwarted because he was "reluctant to surrender", police said, without offering further details.

Imran Khan has been pressuring the coalition government that replaced him, led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, with popular rallies and daily addresses.

Last year, he was shot in the leg at a demonstration, an assassination bid he blamed on Shehbaz Sharif.

Reporters Irfan Malik, Zain Madni, Faseehullah, Shahid Sipra, Zahid Chaudhry, Abid Chaudhry, Israr Ahmad and Usman Khadim Kamboh/Agencies