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July 13, 2018

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PML-N workers arrested in massive crackdown

LAHORE: The Lahore Police launched a massive crackdown in the provincial metropolis in wee hours of Thursday and arrested over 159 leaders and loyalists of PML-N prior to the return of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz to the country on Friday, with similar reports also coming from Gujranwala and Kasur.

Several UC chairmen, vice-chairmen and councillors were among those arrested from various parts of Lahore. The detained PML-N activists were sent to Kot Lakhpat Jail for one month. The chairmen of UC-59, UC-65 and UC-66 were among those arrested. However, most of the PML-N leaders and workers left their houses right after the police launched a massive crackdown in every nook and cranny of the city to arrest them.

Following the arrests, a large number of PML-N workers staged demonstrations outside the police stations. Police have already impounded hundreds of containers to block the roads leading towards the airport on Friday (today).

It was reported that a list of active workers had already been forwarded by the interior ministry, while additional arrests of 300 people would be made in the provincial metropolis under advice from the district administration.

At least 33 persons were shifted to the Kot Lakhpat Jail of which 10 were arrested from the City Division and 23 from Iqbal Town Division. Many arrested workers kept in police stations were being shifted to jail.

At least 51 activists were arrested from the Iqbal Town Division of which 23 persons were shifted to jail and 28 were kept in police stations as their detention orders were yet to be released. At least 64 persons have been sent to the Kot Lakhpat jail so far.

In Gujranwala too, police have launched a crackdown after which hundreds of PML-N workers went underground by getting off their cell phones to avoid arrest.

The police in Ghakhar Mandi raided the house of Municipal Committee Chairman Waseem Yaqoob Butt and took him to some unknown place, but Gujranwala Deputy Mayor Rana Maqsood and UC Chairman Sarfraz Ahmed succeeded to escape during the raids their houses.

Sources say the police have prepared a list of about 300 PML-N workers for arrest, while the party leaders have advised them to go underground.

It is reported that caravans from Gujranwala city will leave for Lahore by the residences of former foreign minister Khurram Dastgir Khan, former MPAs Imran Khalid Butt, Abdul Rauf Mughal, Taufeeq Butt and Usman Ibrahim as well as other places for welcoming Nawaz on Friday.

In Kasur, the police have arrested PML-N youth wing district president Chaudhry Asghar and Naeem Bhatti. They are conducting more raids at the houses and offices of other activists. On the other hand, the party loyalists have vowed to reach Lahore on Friday at every cost.

Meanwhile, the PML-N Lawyers Forum has approached the Lahore High Court against the arrests, as its president Naseer Ahmad Bhutta filed a petition, pleading that the caretaker government and the police in Punjab have arrested a large number of party workers illegally.

He submitted that the IGP, despite repeated attempts, refused to disclose any information regarding the whereabouts of the arrested workers.

He alleged that the police were extending threats to the families of the PML-N’s arrested workers with dire consequences in case they approached the court.

The petitioner argued that the arrests by the caretaker administration were illegal, discriminatory and a violation of fundamental rights. He stated that allowing the caretaker government and the police to continue with their atrocious acts would mean that the province was the most unsafe territory.

Bhutta asked the court to order the police to immediately release the arrested workers and stop causing harassment to their families.

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