Sialkot jalsa: PTI changes venue after Christian community's protest

Imran Khan confirms visit to Sialkot; accuses government of using and abusing democracy; several PTI leaders arrested

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PTI workers and police clash in CTI ground, Sialkot, on May 14, 2022. — Twitter
PTI workers and police clash in CTI ground, Sialkot, on May 14, 2022. — Twitter
  • Imran Khan confirms visiting Sialkot today, berates government.
  • Police baton charge PTI workers and get the rally venue vacated. 
  • Venue changed for jalsa as Christian community had objections.  

The PTI Saturday changed the venue of its public gathering from CTI ground — a property of the Christian community — to VIP Ground in Sialkot after the community lodged a protest as the party had not taken prior permission from them for the rally.

The police had early in the morning launched a crackdown on the PTI’s activists and got the rally venue vacated after they tried to hold a public meeting at the CTI ground, a property of the Christian community, without their consent.

The district administration of Sialkot had also a day back rejected PTI’s request for holding a rally at the CTI ground after the Christian community raised objections over the meeting at their property.

In a series of tweets, PTI Chairman Imran Khan confirmed that he will be addressing the Sialkot jalsa and said the administration's actions against party leaders were "outrageous, but not unexpected".

"This bunch of criminals out on bail and their convict mafia boss in London have always used fascist tactics against opponents," the ousted prime minister said.

The PTI chairman has held a series of jalsas in different cities, including Karachi, Mianwali, Lahore, and Peshawar, as he rallies his party workers and leaders against the government ahead of the Islamabad march.

Khan accused the government of using and abusing democracy when they are in the Opposition and claimed they totally destroy all democratic norms when in power.

"But people have now risen against them."

The PTI chairman reminded the PML-N that during his party's government, they had never stopped any of their jalsas, sit-ins, or rallies because they were committed to democracy.

"I will be in Sialkot today and I am calling on all our people to come out and protest in their areas after Isha prayers against this fascist imported government," he added.

What happened during the day?

Earlier today, PTI leader Usman Dar accompanied by a score of PTI workers arrived at the ground and started preparations for a rally, upon which police launched a crackdown and arrested Usman Dar and many other party workers.

“We have stopped the PTI from holding a public meeting at the CTI ground on the request of the Christian community,” said Deputy Commissioner Sialkot Imran Qureshi.

He said that permission is required for holding a public meeting in a private place. Taking action on the request of the minority community, the police had got the CTI ground vacated. Christian community told the police that they perform their religious rites on the ground.

The Christian community was protesting against PTI’s call for holding a rally at their property, said the district administration.

Following police action, many PTI workers showed resistance, however police baton-charged and used tear gas to disperse PTI workers.

PTI leader Usman Dar said that a peaceful rally was their right, adding that former prime minister Imran Khan would visit Sialkot today.

The Christian community had approached the Lahore High Court, the DPO said, adding that the police took action on court orders to stop the PTI from holding the rally.

The DPO, however, said: "We are ready to give PTI an alternate place for public gathering."

Rejecting reports of arrest, DPO said that no one has been taken into custody, adding that they were just removing chairs and other stuff kept over here.

PTI leaders accuse Khawaja Asif for police action

In a press conference, PTI leaders — Shafqat Mehmood, Ejaz Chaudhry, and Firdous Ashiq Awan — blamed Defence Minister Khawaja Asif for the police action.

"Our peaceful people were beaten; holding a jalsa is our democratic right. The administration tortured our workers on Khawaja Asif's directives," Mehmood said, vowing that the rally would go ahead come what may.

Confirming the change in venue to Vip Cricket Ground, the former education minister urged the local administration to release PTI leaders, including Usman Dar.

Chaudhry warned Asif of consequences in response to today's events but assured the government that if it remains peaceful, so would the party.

‘PTI wants to spread anarchy'

Talking to journalists in Lahore, PML-N leader Attaullah Tarar said the PTI is holding rallies across Punjab, but the government did not cause hindrances and provided them security.

Responding to a question about the police action against the PTI jalsa in Sialkot, Tarar said, “I propose that there is a stadium in Sialkot, why don't you people hold your rally there? But actually, PTI wanted to hold its jalsa on the church's land and wanted to spread anarchy; we will not allow it."

Tarrar questioned that would the PTI allow PML-N to hold a jalsa at Bani Gala's ground and warned that if the party sticks to holding rally on the church's ground, then PTI members would be sent to jail.

Reiterating that the government would allow them to hold their rally anywhere else, he said that if a need arises, the authorities would arrest PTI's Sialkot leadership.