Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Tuesday claimed that two party workers had died due to tear gas shelling by police in the run-up to the November 2 ‘lockdown’.
Qureshi went as far as to say that the tear gas used by the government was expired, causing serious harm. His words firmly put the blame for the deaths on the PML-N government when the protest was peaking.
Yet in a press release today, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak said the party had not suffered any loss of life in the protests.
KP government spokesman Mushtaq Ghani confirmed the above, saying that no PTI worker had died as a result of shelling or due to the protests. “This was just a rumour,” he said.
Which leader is to be believed? Is there a lack of coordination in the party, or were there no deaths? Was Shah Mehmood Qureshi provided false information?
Allegations have been raised that the PTI’s claim of deaths during the protest was a ruse to build pressure on the government and maintain momentum for the ‘lockdown’. In fact, conflicting reports about Qureshi’s claim had emerged the very day of the announcement.
A PTI leader in Islamabad speaking to Dawn.com on condition of anonymity today admitted the situation may have been ‘misread’.
“I think the situation was misread. There was another guy who committed suicide so the party was mistakenly told a worker died. That is not the case. There was so much happening. Emotions were high,” he said.
PTI’s original version of events
Peshawar Nazim Mohammad Asim Khan claimed that a party worker, 39-year-old Inamullah, president of the Pehtal UC had died after sustaining injuries in the Swabi tear gas shelling.
PTI workers alleged that Inamullah, who they said was at the front of the convoy clashing with police, was not treated in time because of a delay in the movement of ambulances due to roadblocks.
How did Inamullah die?
Press Information Department (PID) Spokesperson Zaeem Farooq during a briefing on Tuesday denied Qureshi’s claims that two party workers had died. He said Inam had died independent of the protest, and also claimed Inamullah’s family asked Imran Khan to stop playing politics with the death of their family member.
Inamullah’s funeral was held on Tuesday around 11am.
In a follow-up today, it was found that there was no record of a man who went by the name Inamullah, or was from his area of residence, in either of Peshawar’s three largest hospitals following the tear gas shelling in Swabi.
Nawaz, a brother of the deceased spoke to a local journalist saying that Inamullah had died at home at around 9:45pm the night before.
“He was on the charpoy. There was a rope around his neck… He strangled himself,” he said. “He did not go to the dharna.”
A Peshawar police official said a police team that visited Inamullah’s family home was told that the man was ill and had committed suicide. The family categorically denied that he had died in the protest.
A station house officer in Peshawar told DawnNews that a police team investigating the matter was told by Inam’s father, Amir Khan, that the 39-year-old man had an inherited illness.
He added that the news of his son dying in the protests had disturbed his family a great deal.
A second death?
In the Tuesday briefing, PID Spokesman Zaeem Farooq had also stated that there was no second PTI worker who had died during the protest.
His claim is supported by the fact that the PTI has also not named and provided details of a second worker. With Khattak’s announcement today, it appears that the party has u-turned on all claims of deaths.
With additional reporting by Rahimullah in Peshawar.