On Saturday, former prime minister Imran Khan accused the Punjab caretaker government of covering up PTI worker Ali Bilal’s death and urged the Lahore High Court (LHC) to constitute a judicial commission to probe the matter.
Bilal, also known as Zillay Shah, died, several others were injured and many picked up on March 8 as the caretaker Punjab government used force to block a rally called to launch the party’s campaign for the April 30 elections in the province.
Punjab Inspector General (IG) Dr. Usman Anwar earlier today rejected allegations leveled by the PTI blaming the provincial administration for the alleged custodial killing of Bilal, insisting the incident was purely a road “accident case” which, he said, was “unfortunately misinterpreted” publicly.
In his first televised address after the LHC revoked the ban on the PTI chairman’s speeches, Imran hit back hard at the provincial authorities, terming the Punjab police as “savages”, saying that he could not believe “what they did to a special person (Bilal)”.
“Police are trying their level best to cover up the case. They put his family members in jail and now they’re making people give forceful statements to cover it up.”
Addressing the judiciary, Imran said they were the only ones preventing the country from turning into a “banana republic”. “I request Punjab’s chief justice to form a judicial commission on this matter today and investigate what happened with him (Bilal),” the PTI chief said, adding that he had no hope from the government.
He also called on the Election Commission of Pakistan to take resignations from the caretaker chief minister, IG, and Lahore capital city police officer immediately. “You appointed them … so take their resignations today,” the former prime minister demanded.
“I’m hurt over his death,” Imran said. “No one had ever spoken ill of him but the way he was tortured in custody is shameful”.
The ex-premier said there were “at least 60 marks” on Bilal’s body, which he said was an indication that torture was inflicted on him.
Imran continued to lambast Punjab caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi for “collaborating with crooks because of the hatred towards PTI”.
“They don’t think of people as humans. They think they’re sheep,” he said. “First they blamed my worker’s murder on me and now they are terming it an accident.”
The PTI chief vowed to remember the faces of “these” people, adding that “many police [officers] are telling that they were not behind this incident but ‘unknown people’ tortured him (Bilal).”
Imran also warned Naqvi that it was only a matter of time that the people sitting beside him in the presser earlier would turn into “an approver” against him in this case.
Later in his speech, Imran announced that he will lead an election campaign rally in Lahore on Sunday (tomorrow) at 2 pm, and urged his supporters and workers to participate in face of the police brutality purportedly committed against the party.
He questioned how there could be a crackdown on an election rally when the schedule for the Punjab elections was already released.
“I know they still want to do something [to find an excuse and] run away from elections,” Imran said.