Lahore ATC grants interim bail to PTI leaders over long march vandalism

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A Lahore anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Friday approved interim bails of top leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in Punjab a day after it issued non-bailable arrest warrants for them over multiple charges including alleged violations of Section 144 and attacks on law enforcement agencies on May 25 — the day PTI workers marched to Islamabad.

On Thursday, investigating officer Muhammad Saleem had requested the court to issue non-bailable arrest warrants for Mian Akram Usman, Muhammad Zubair Khan Niazi, Imtiaz Mehmood Sheikh, Mian Mehmood ur Rasheed, Mian Shafqat Mehmood, Malik Nadeem Abbas, Murad Raas, Mian Aslam Iqbal, Yasir Gilani, Dr Yasmin Rashid, Hammad Azhar, Andleeb Abbas, and Ijaz Chaudhry.

He stated that the accused persons were “intentionally concealing themselves in order to avoid their arrest and their arrest is necessary for completion of the investigation”.

Subsequently, the court of Judge Abher Gul Khan had issued the warrants.

However, later in the day, all the PTI leaders named in the cases arrived in court and applied for interim bails. The court accepted their requests and stopped the police from arresting them till June 17.

Last month, the Punjab police had registered a total of 42 criminal cases against PTI’s senior leaders and workers for alleged agitation in the aftermath of the long march.

It said three police officials had been martyred in the line of duty while 100 others were injured, three of them seriously, in allegedly attacks by PTI workers. Of them, 34 personnel were injured in Lahore, 48 in Attock and nine in Sargodha, Mianwali, Rawal­pindi, Jhelum and other cities.

Earlier, a police official told Dawn that 12 cases were registered in Lahore, five in Sialkot, four each in Rawalpindi and Sargodha, three in Mianwali, and two each in Attock and Jhelum, while one FIR was lodged in Chakwal.