The Punjab government on Wednesday claimed that weapons were recovered from the vehicles of PTI’s Lahore office bearers – Zubair Niazi and Bajash Niazi – on the day the party launched its “Azadi March”.
Zubair Niazi, however, rubbished the allegations, saying this was “fake news” being peddled by the Punjab government, adding that police had not raided his house or checked his vehicles.
Lahore DIG Operations Sohail Chaudhry said police had received information some days ago about “illegal weapons” being brought to the city. “During the blockades on Tuesday, we tried to stop five cars on the motorway. Later, in a raid at the homes of PTI Lahore office bearers Zubair Niazi and Bajash Niazi, the weapons were recovered.
“The leaders have been taken into custody,” he said, adding that police would ensure that the march was held peacefully according to the law.
Similar allegations were made by PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, who tweeted that Punjab Police had recovered weapons from the vehicles of the two leaders, asserting that this was the “ugly face” of the party’s ‘Azadi March’.
“Weapons recovered by Punjab Lahore police from vehicles of PTI Lahore office bearers Zubair Niazi and Bajash Niazi. Case registered,” she wrote on Twitter.
Continuing, she provided details of the weapons, which include six “223 bore guns, 13 SMG rifles, three pistols, 10 ‘kopay’, 96 magazines of SMG rifles and 223 bore guns, 26 magazines of pistols, 50 boxes of bullets and six bigger packs of bullets”.
Later, Punjab government spokesperson Ataullah Tarar in a media briefing said a “large quantity of weapons” was found from the homes of the two PTI workers. “It is now clear this isn’t a peaceful march. These people want chaos and anarchy to spread in the country.”
He also showed the photographs of the “modern weapons” on display that Maryam posted on Twitter, and listed what was found.
“What was this weaponry gathered for? We have intelligence reports. Look at these weapons. They want to hide there (in Peshawar), and yet they’re asking for others’ children to [risk their lives] and march.”
At the same time, senior journalist Hamid Mir also shared a photo on his Twitter, showing a man, adorning a PTI cap, hiding a rifle behind him. The photo, however, is eight years old and was first shared on Twitter during the 2014 sit-in organised by the party in Islamabad.
Several users called out the senior journalist for sharing an old photo, which could be mistaken as the current situation on the ground, in a tense environment.
Meanwhile, Zubair, in a video with PTI supporters, categorically rejected Maryam and Chaudhry’s claims, saying that no weapons were recovered from his house or cars.
“No raid was conducted at my house, neither were my cars checked. I haven’t even met the police yet,” Zubari continued.
“I will soon meet police at Batti Chowk and then on GT Road. I am recording this statement for the media,” he stated, reiterating that the news was baseless.
“Unlike Rana Sanaullah, I don’t do or keep heroine, which was found from his car,” Zubair said, adding that this was his official statement.