Imran Khan, other PTI leaders booked over ‘vandalism, arson’ charges during Azadi March

Islamabad police on Thursday booked PTI Chairman Imran Khan and other leaders of his party in two separate cases over allegations of arson and vandalism in the capital the previous night.

A first information report (FIR) was registered at 1:50am at Kohsar police station over the complaint of Sub-Inspector (SI) Asif Raza under Sections 109 (abetment), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 186 (obstructing public service), 188 (disobedience), 353 (assault on public servant), 427 (causing damage) and 435 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to cause damage) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

SI Raza, in the FIR, said he was on duty, along with other police personnel, at Jinnah Avenue’s China Chowk when at 11pm, 100-150 people with PTI flags suddenly moved towards Express Chowk. He said the police tried to stop the PTI supporters due to the imposition of Section 144 in Islamabad but they did not listen and instead pelted stones at the police officers and also setting fire to trees.

Raza said 36 individuals, who were acting at the “behest of Imran and other PTI leadership”, were “brought under control”.

Meanwhile, the second FIR was registered at 3:20am on the complaint of SI Ghulam Sarwar under the same sections as the prior FIR. Sarwar claimed that he and other police officers were on duty at Express Chowk when at 12:30am, 100-150 PTI protesters — equipped with rods and inflammatory materials — chanted slogans, incited people and set fire to the trees and Metro Bus station near Geo Chowk, along with smashing mirrors of Geo News’ office.

SI Sarwar said as the police tried to disperse the crowd, the PTI workers resorted to pelting stones and also damaged a government bus. He added that 39 individuals were subsequently arrested.

The FIR filed on SI Sarwar’s complaint named Imran as well as Asad Umar, Imran Ismail, Raja Khurram Nawaz, Ali Amin Gandapur, Ali Nawaz Awan among others.

Both FIRs revolve around the events that transpired on the streets of Islamabad during the PTI’s Azadi March last night. PTI party workers and supporters were present at D-Chowk on Wednesday in the face of intense police shelling.

Television footage showed smoke rising from the ground and fires in the green belts adjacent to Islamabad’s main roads. The government claimed that the PTI supporters had set the fires whereas the claim from the PTI camp was that the fires were a result of police shelling. Neither claim could be independently verified.

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