Lahore police claim it recovered weapons from vehicles of PTI activists

LAHORE: The police claimed to have recovered weapons from the cars of two Lahore office-bearers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) as the party launched its long march on Islamabad to demand elections.

The government on Tuesday banned former prime minister Imran Khan from holding the massive, planned march in Islamabad and cracked down on his supporters in midnight raids across the country, arresting hundreds.

During the raids, a policeman was killed when a man opened fire after officers barged into his home past midnight in Lahore.

Today, Sohail Chaudhry, operations chief of Lahore police, claimed his force received information days ago about “illegal weapons” being brought to the provincial capital.

“During the citywide blockades on Tuesday, the police tried to stop five cars on the motorway. Later, in a raid at the homes of Zubair Niazi and Bajash Niazi, Lahore office-bearers of PTI, the weapons were recovered.

“The Niazi brothers have been taken into police custody,” he said, adding the police would ensure that the march was held peacefully according to the law.

Similar allegations were made by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) vice president Maryam Nawaz who tweeted the police had recovered weapons from the vehicles of the two activists.

This was the “ugly face” of the party’s Azadi March, she declared. “Weapons recovered by Punjab Lahore police from vehicles of PTI Lahore office bearers Zubair Niazi and Bajash Niazi. Case registered.”

Providing details of the weapons, she said the cache comprises “six 223 bore guns, 13 SMG rifles, three pistols, 10 kopay, 96 magazines of SMG rifles and 223 bore guns, 26 magazines of pistols, 50 boxes of bullets and six bigger packs of bullets”.

Later, Ataullah Tarar, a spokesperson for the Punjab government, in a media briefing also said a “large quantity of weapons” was recovered from the homes of the two PTI activists.

“It is now clear this isn’t a peaceful march. These people want chaos and anarchy to spread in the country,” Tarar claimed.

He also showed the photographs of the “modern weapons” on display that Maryam posted on Twitter, and listed what was found.

“What was this weaponry gathered for? We have intelligence reports. Look at these weapons. They want to hide there (in Peshawar), and yet they’re asking for others’ children to [risk their lives] and march.”

‘UNFOUNDED CLAIMS’

Meanwhile, Zubair, in a video with PTI supporters, categorically rejected the claims, saying that no weapons were recovered from his house or cars.

“This is the same Maryam who used to say she had no property in London. And DIG sahab, don’t indulge in this fake news on their (PML-N’s) orders,” he said.

“Since 8:30 am, I am out of my house with my tehreekis […] This is baseless news.

“No raid was conducted at my house, neither were my cars checked. I haven’t even met the police yet,” Zubari continued.

“I will soon meet the police at Batti Chowk and then at GT Road. I am recording this statement for the media,” he stated, reiterating that the news was baseless.

“Unlike Rana Sanaullah, I don’t do or keep heroin, which was found from his car,” Zubair said, adding this was his official statement.

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