'Jail Bharo Tehreek': Imran Khan condemns govt for treating PTI workers like 'terrorists'

PTI chief says his party is protesting against "fascism, violation of fundamental rights"

Web Desk

PTI Chairman Imran Khan addresses a press conference at his Banigala residence. — AFP/File
PTI Chairman Imran Khan addresses a press conference at his Banigala residence. — AFP/File
  • Imran Khan condemns “fascist approach” of PDM-led govt.
  • He says party is fighting govt's "violation of fundamental rights".
  • Several pleas filed in LHC for release of the detained PTI leaders.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan Saturday strongly condemned the “fascist approach” of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)-led government for treating his party’s workers and leaders detained during the "Jail Bharo Tehreek" (court arrest movement) like terrorists.

The movement, according to the PTI rationale, aims to counter the "attack on constitutionally-guaranteed fundamental rights" and the "economic meltdown" by the incumbent government".

The court arrest movement was launched on February 22. The party's senior leaders, including Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Asad Umar and Azam Swati, along with party workers voluntarily surrendered themselves to the Lahore police on the first day of the campaign — and later, some of the others followed suit.

In the tweet, Khan claimed that his party's leadership and workers are protesting against fascism, the violation of fundamental rights, and the crushing of the nation.

It is pertinent to mention here that in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa capital of Peshawar — considered a stronghold of the PTI —the party’s court arrest movement ended with no detention.

While the police geared up for arrests and appealed to the PTI workers for surrendering themselves before the authorities, none of the members seemingly paid heed to their call.

Pleas filed for recovery

Despite the "voluntary" arrests of leaders and workers, several pleas were filed earlier this week in the Lahore High Court (LHC) for releasing them.

PTI Senator Ijaz Chaudhry filed pleas for the recovery of at least eight PTI leaders — Umar, Omar Sarfaraz Cheema, Waleed Iqbal, Senator Swati, Murad Ras, Jaan Madni, Azam Niazi, and Ahsan Dogar.

"The leaders are not even being provided medicines and food." The petition further said that the leaders are being kept in wrongful detention. "To defame and hurt them, fake cases can be made against them."

Chaudhry said that there was no reason to keep them behind bars and urged the court to direct police to produce the leaders before the LHC and not resort to any illegal steps.

In his petition, Zain Qureshi appealed to the LHC to order authorities to produce his father — the PTI vice chairman — who is being kept in wrongful detention.

"Shah Mahmood was taken into custody yesterday and I am not being informed about his whereabouts," Qureshi said 

Courtroom bursts into laughter

As Justice Shehram Sarwar Chaudhary heard the plea of Qureshi on Friday, he inquired the petitioner's lawyer about why the party members have been arrested. 

At this, the lawyer said the party has started a "Jail Bharo" movement. Justice Chaudhary asked why they are playing with the courts. To this, the lawyer said: "We are not asking for bail, these are symbolic arrests and we are here to protect the rights of the leaders."

The courtroom burst into laughter at the lawyer's reply.

After this, the court remarked that "you were asking yourself to make arrests, now that they are arrested, what's the emergency?"

Zain also appeared in court. "I did not get arrested but my father was and I am not allowed to meet him," said Qureshi's son.

At this, Justice Chaudhary replied: "Go to a place where Section 144 is imposed, you will get arrested and will also be able to meet him." His remarks, once again, caused laughter in the room.  

Swati arrested despite being 'on waiting list'

PTI senior leader Azam Khan Swati claimed that he was taken into custody when he arrived at the Bahawalpur jail to meet the incarcerated leader Qureshi.

He made the remarks while talking to journalists after his medical checkup by the authorities on Saturday. Later, the authorities sent him to the District Jail Rahim Yar Khan.

Speaking on the occasion, the 76-year-old leader said that his name was on the waiting list of the “Jail Bharo Tehreek”. Swati claimed that he was arrested illegally. The PTI leader revealed that he would be kept in the death cell of the jail.

He hoped that the courts would provide him with justice and order for elections in the country.

PTI workers shifted to Adiala Jail

At least 47 leaders and activists of the PTI hailing from Rawalpindi were shifted to Adiala Jail Saturday.

During the third phase of the "Jail Bharo Tehreek" in Rawalpindi, five key leaders among 80 to 90 workers of the party voluntarily surrendered to the authorities.

Those who have been shifted to Adiala Jail, include Zulfi Bukhari, Sadaqat Ali Abbasi, Major (retd) Latasub Satti, Fayaz ul Hassan Chohan, Ijaz Khan, and others, according to the PTI’s official Twitter handle.