Punjab Police late Monday raided the houses of several PTI leaders, including former energy minister Hammad Azhar, Usman Dar, and Babar Awan, while a police constable was also shot dead during a raid in Lahore.
The development comes hours after PTI’s Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry, in a press conference, warned the government against using force to stop the “Azadi March”, set to begin on May 25.
The former information minister told the government that it could arrest PTI leaders and workers if it wanted to, but it would not be in its favour.
Party sources have said that around 73 workers have been arrested so far. During a raid on one of the PTI leader’s house in Lahore’s Model Town, police constable Kamal Ahmed was shot in the chest and was taken to a nearby hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds.
The suspect fired the bullet from the rooftop of a house, police said. “…we are still investigating but we will not spare those involved [in the crime],” DIG Operations Lahore Captain (Retd) Muhammad Sohail Chaudhry said.
Meanwhile, despite Fawad’s warning of using force against the PTI ahead of the long march, police raided the houses of PTI leaders across Punjab and Islamabad.
Police raided Hammad Azhar’s house in Lahore, however, he was not present at his residence.
Lahore Police also raided the residence of PTI’s former information secretary, Farrukh Javed, but he escaped via his home’s back door, according to Geo News.
In Lahore’s Jauhar Town, PTI MPA Sadia Sohail said her house had also been raided. “Police violated the sanctity of the four walls of the house,” she claimed.
The house of another PTI leader in Lahore, Mehr Naeemullah Taj, was also raided. He alleged that police misbehaved with his family members and manhandled his employees.
Police raided the residences of PTI leaders Malik Ishtiaq and Yasir Gillani, but since they were also not present in their houses, no arrests could be made.
In Sialkot, the house of former special assistant to the prime minister on information Firdous Ashiq Awan, ex-provincial minister Chaudhry Ikhlaq, and PTI leader Tahir Hundli’s houses were raided.
Sialkot Police — with a heavy contingent — also raided the residence of Usman Dar. However, he was not present at his home, officials said.
PTI’s Sahiwal district president, Rana Aftab, and another PTI leader Kanwar Imran also claimed that their houses were raided.
Sheikhupura Police raided the house of Mian Zafar, but could not arrest him as he was not present there.
PTI leader Rana Sajid from Kamoke also said that his house was raided, but he wasn’t present there either. “Police detained two of my employees, but later released them.”
Meanwhile, former federal minister Ali Zaidi’s spokesperson said that the residence of PTI’s Sindh MPA Shehzad Qureshi in Karachi’s Defence Housing Authority’s Phase 8 was also raided. However, Qureshi wasn’t home at the time of the raid.
The residences of Sindh MPA Shahnawaz Jadoon and MNA Saifur Rehman in Karachi were also raided.
Talking to the media, Jadoon’s brother Abdur Rehman said that the police detained him as Jadoon wasn’t at home when their house was raided, and released him after some questioning.
However, MNA Rehman was arrested during the raid at his residence in Sohrab Goth area.
Moreover, PTI’s Youth Wing leader Hafiz Tanveer Ansari’s house was raided in Lahore. Sources within the party said that Ansari wasn’t home when the police raided therefore they returned empty-handed.