Dogar among 10 PTI workers held in Multan

MULTAN (Agencies): At least 10 Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers were arrested from party leader Amir Dogar’s dera (private visitors’ house) in Multan as police raided the place for apprehending party activists allegedly involved in creating chaos outside an office of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) soon after they scuffled with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) workers.
The former PTI MNA, who was present at the time of the raid, demanded that he be arrested along with party workers. Dogar, who had not been arrested since it was believed he was not involved in the rioting outside the ECP office, told the police, “If my workers have been detained, I will also go with you.” The law enforcers complied, and the arrested people were taken to a police station in Cantt. Moreover, the poll organising authority too said that it had not requested Dogar’s arrest.
Immediately after the arrest, PTI leader Farrukh Habib took to Twitter to condemn the arrests, saying: “Strongly condemn the arrest of Amir Dogar in Multan. The PDM [Pakistan Democratic Movement] should stop using dirty tactics and Amir Dogar should be released immediately.” On Wednesday (today), which was the last day to submit nomination papers for NA 155 and NA 156, PTI leader Dogar and PML-N leader Sheikh Tariq Rasheed reached the ECP office at the same time. As the two were submitting their documents, workers of both sides started spewing vitriol against leaders of the other side. The verbal spat soon turned into a fight with clay pots being thrown and fistfights breaking out.
During the incident, seven people were injured, and all of them belonged to PML-N. Six of the injured people were given aid at the spot. Soon after the clash, the RPO and CPO arrived on the spot and culprits were identified via security footage and videos taken by camera persons on the spot. It was also said that the matter was being investigated at the behest of the ECP, which had lodged a complaint regarding the incident.
According to the police, the footage seen so far showed that PTI workers were more aggressive, which had led to the raid at Dogar’s dera. Police at the time of arrests told Dogar that they did not want to arrest him, but on his insistence were forced to. The police also reiterated that the footage was being examined and so far Dogar was still not found guilty of any instigation. Therefore, his arrest was not needed or asked for. It was prompted by Dogar’s insistence that he be taken with his workers. In fact, the police said: “It seems that senior leaders of both sides were trying to break up the fight. However, the workers were too agitated and refused to pay heed.”
ECP commissioner Multan Saleem Khan said that the inquiry into the incident would be “free of prejudice” and those responsible would be held accountable. The CPO seconded this assertion and said that the ECP’s request had not been against any party, but against the workers of both on the basis of fighting, vandalism and destruction of public property. “It will be investigated what the instigators can be charged with and only then will cases be registered and investigated,” he clarified. After the ECP appealed to the police regarding the rioting, the police raided Dogar’s dera with a huge squad. The CPO added that the ECP had requested security for the day and called for measures put in place. For the matter of scrutiny which is to begin tomorrow, one candidate is called at one time to avoid clashes.
Around 100 people had come with Dogar and Rasheed, of whom more than 10 have been arrested so far. In response to a question about whether more raids and arrests are in the offing, the police said that the raid at Dogar’s dera had been prompted only by the information that the perpetrators of the clash were present there. “As soon as we get information regarding other accused people involved in the attack, there will be more raids and we will arrest more culprits — regardless of which party they are affiliated with,” the police said.
Reacting to Dogar’s arrest, PTI Senior Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi said he can’t comment on Amir Dogar offering himself for arrest, as he doesn’t have the facts before him. “A strange atmosphere is being created. Our movement has so far remained peaceful. We have not taken the law in our hands,” Qureshi — who had served as foreign minister in his PTI’s previous government — said while condemning the arrest of Dogar and party workers. There is a contradiction in the government’s position on conducting the by-elections but not the provincial ones. Meanwhile, PTI Senior Vice-President Fawad Chaudhry said today’s situation reminded him of the events of May 25. Last year in May, PTI chief Imran Khan and his caravan marched towards Islamabad for the “Azadi March” despite the government’s instructions not to, after which multiple scuffles took place between the marchers and the police in the federal capital.
The party’s Secretary-General Asad Umar, taking to his official Twitter account, deemed today’s events the “funeral of democracy”. “The arrest of Amir Dogar, PTI’s chief whip in the National Assembly, is a fresh example of growing fascism,” he wrote on the microblogging site. Meanwhile, in Multan, Sheikh Tariq Rasheed, the PML-N candidate for by-election on the NA-155 seat, has also been arrested, police confirmed. The party’s Malik Anwer has also been taken into custody by the police. PML-N Senator Rana Mahmood Ul Hassan, on the other hand, was released after being held briefly on charges of rioting at the election commission, however, he wasn’t present there at the time of the dispute.