General

Dharna violence case: Imran Khan appears before ATC

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairperson Imran Khan appeared before an anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Tuesday in four cases pertaining to violence during the 2014 sit-in.
The ATC is hearing four cases against the PTI chief, including that of the attack on the state television building, Parliament and the then Islamabad SSP Operations Asmatullah Junejo.
The court summoned the PTI chief after both he and his legal counsel, Babar Awan, failed to appear before the court during today’s hearing earlier in the day.
It was reported that Awan could not appear before the ATC as he was busy with cases being heard by the Supreme Court.
While presenting his arguments, Babar Awan questioned: “Is Imran Khan a terrorist? Is fighting for your right called terrorism?”
PTI’s only demand was to catch the culprit, he remarked.
Awan also pointed out that so far 11 witnesses have recorded their statements in the SSP Junejo attack case.
“Not a single witness had alleged that Imran carried out the attack. Imran wasn’t even present at the site where SSP Junejo was attacked, he added.
How many people were arrested based on the video of the attack on SSP, the court asked. Replying to this, a police official said that no suspect was arrested with the help of the video. “The suspects in the video could not be identified,” the official remarked.
Moreover, Prosecutor Chaudhry Shafqaat submitted a request to dismiss the bail petition of Imran Khan. “The law should be the same for everyone,” Shafqaat added, “Imran should answer why has he been absconding?”
A person who has been absconding from court hearings intentionally has no right to a bail, he said.
On December 13, anti-terrorism court (ATC) had extended the interim bail of Imran Khan in the four cases. ATC Judge Shahrukh Arjumand accepted the PTI chief’s request to extend his bail until January 2, 2018 (today).
On December 11, the ATC had dismissed Imran Khan’s request to quash the terror charges and send the case to a lower court. Imran’s legal counsel, Babar Awan, pleaded before ATC Judge Shahrukh Arjumand to remove the terrorism clauses from the charges against his client. He said protesting for one’s rights, with slingshots and sticks, is not terrorism but a democratic right.
However, the state prosecutor said there is solid evidence against the PTI chief of instigating party workers against the state. The judge then reserved the decision on the case.
Speaking to the media outside the court after his appearance, Imran said it is shameful that the state is lodging terrorism cases against political opponents.
Last month, Imran, through his counsel, had surrendered himself before the ATC, which then approved the PTI chairman’s bail for Rs200,000 in each case.
The court had earlier issued non-bailable warrants against him and declared him a proclaimed offender as he had not appeared in any hearing.
The court had also ordered Imran to cooperate with the investigation and get his statement recorded before police. Last Sunday, Imran appeared before the investigation officer and recorded his statement at the Secretariat Police Station.
Violence during the 2014 sit-in
Imran and his ally Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri face charges of destroying property in the Red Zone, attacking the state TV channel’s building and injuring SSP Junejo during the 2014 protest.
In August 2014, violence broke out in the federal capital when PTI and PAT supporters attempted to break a police cordon and storm the PM House, using cranes to remove barricades.
The clashes between police and protesters resulted in the deaths of three people and injuries to over 560. Of the injured, 77 were security officials deployed in the Red Zone, including SSP Junejo.
The decision to march to the PM House was taken after talks between the government, PTI and PAT had failed to end the deadlock over the resignation of then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The two parties were protesting ‘rigging’ in the 2013 General Elections.