A district magistrate court in Muzaffargarh has ordered the release of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Shahbaz Gill, on the basis of his arrest being a ‘violation of election code’ despite him being arrested on the same grounds.
Gill was arrested on Sunday morning after he arrived at the polling stations PP-272 and PP-73 in Muzaffargarh accompanied by personal guards who were brandishing weapons.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and Punjab Home Minister Attaullah Tarar claimed in a statement, that Gill was arrested for violating Section 144 which had been imposed in Punjab during the by-elections, which prohibits the public display of weapons.
Tarar also said that the weapon-carrying men with Gill were posing as Frontier Corps (FC) personnel, and claimed the men had been bought to undermine the law and order situation during the by-polls.
However, Gill denied that the men had dressed up as FC personnel, and maintained that he had been arrested without a warrant after having been kept engaged for three hours before his arrest.
Early morning on Monday, the police presented Gill before the district magistrate court of the Tehseel Jataoi area, where the court issued orders to release him, saying that his arrest was a ‘violation of the electoral code’.
The Muzaffargarh police had taken Gill from a factory owned by PTI candidate Muazzam Ali, and earlier video footage showed Gill accompanied by guards wearing FC uniforms.
Gill’s arrest sparked condemnation from PTI leaders, including party Chairperson Imran Khan who said he strongly condemned the ‘illegal’ arrest of Shahbaz Gill, which he claimed took place ‘simply to try and rig elections and spread fear in people’.
Strongly condemn illegal arrest of Shahbaz Gill simply to try & rig elections & spread fear in ppl. These fascist tactics will not work & our ppl will not be deterred from exercising their right to vote. Handlers of Imported govt should realise damage they are doing to our nation
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) July 17, 2022
Meanwhile, in a press conference after Gill’s arrest, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that if the local administration felt like Gill was violating laws or misbehaving with polling officers, then it was empowered to take decisions to maintain the law and order situation.
“The government would back such steps,” he added.