Escalating violence mars poll campaign

Four armed clashes reported in past 10 days

Muhammad Shahzad February 01, 2024


With the intensification of the election campaign, a surge in violent clashes has marred the political landscape in Lahore.

Over the past 10 days, at least four incidents of violence involving firearms have been reported.

The most recent incident occurred in Batapur on Tuesday night when an election campaign rally led by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate Malik Habib Awan was ambushed by opponents in Niror Village. Five people were injured in the incident.

Malik Boda, the candidate’s younger brother, along with his driver and gunman, were among the injured.

On Saturday night, a youth threw a shoe at former chief minister Hamza Shahbaz during an election campaign gathering in Badami Bagh.

The situation escalated as PML-N supporters captured the suspect, reportedly torturing him before handing him over to the police.

Subsequently, they allegedly engaged in aerial firing and attacked a TLP office. The youth reportedly belonged to TLP.

In an FIR registered at Badami Bagh police station, TLP leader Akram Rizvi accused suspects Riaz Khan and Atif alias Toka of issuing threats before attacking their office in PP-147 Madni Chowk. They shot and injured Akram Rizvi and his supporters, identified as Usama, Mushtaq, Afzal Tahir, Tabib Akhtar Butt, and Afaq Butt.

Although PML-N leaders withdrew charges against the youth, and he was reportedly released after a written assurance, a video circulated on social media falsely claiming the youth was tortured to death by PML-N supporters and police in custody.

In another incident, PML-N workers allegedly fired at a PPP office in NA-126 Rasoolpur village.

Akhtar alias Akhtari, Faizan, and 12 other unidentified persons were nominated in a case over charges of resorting to firing at the office.

On January 26, unidentified suspects set fire to a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) office on Jail Road, recovering a man with burn injuries from the premises.

Initial police investigations suggest that suspected burglars entered the office to steal valuables while smoking, leading to the accidental fire.

Two weeks prior, Pakistan People Party (PPP) claimed that their office in Green Town was attacked with petrol bombs by unidentified suspects.

Lahore DIG Operations Ali Nasir Rizvi assured that Lahore police are taking swift and consistent actions to ensure peaceful elections.

With Section 144 imposed, strict measures are in place against the display and carrying of arms, as well as aerial firing.

Over 26,000 policemen will be deployed according to a comprehensive security plan.

Earlier on Tuesday, Punjab Election Commissioner Ijaz Anwar Chauhan paid a visit to the DC office to evaluate preparations for the upcoming general election.

He specifically reviewed the election monitoring cell, ballot collection, and the record rooms.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2024.


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