PTI march ‘shooter’ sticks to his initial statement

The suspect arrested for firing at the PTI’s “Haqeeqi Azadi March” on November 3, injuring party chief Imran Khan while he was leading the rally in Punjab’s Wazirabad area, has stuck to his initial statement while being interrogated thrice by the joint investigation team (JIT).

Sources said the interrogators of the JIT even went harsh on the suspect, Naveed Ahmad, but he still did not budge from his initial statement that he had acted alone and some speeches of Imran hurt his religious sentiments.

He also told the earlier investigators that he used to hear the speeches of a few religious scholars. The clips of Dr Israr Ahmad, Late Maulana Khadim Rizvi and his son Hafiz Saad Rizvi were also recovered from his mobile phone.

Naveed told the previous investigators that he was frustrated because Imran was allegedly misleading the nation and had also uttered “blasphemous and anti-religious words”.

The sources said the JIT interrogators had changed their questions each time they grilled him, but he remained firm.

They added that Sajid and Waqas, the men who had provided the weapon to the attacker, were also interrogated.

Naveed would now be subjected to a polygraph test to determine the truth. The sources said there were 500 police personnel deployed for the security of the long march. They added that statements of the security personnel would be recorded in the next phase.

The head of the JIT spent the day in Wazirabad. The police had said the suspected shooter was arrested after PTI supporter Ibtesam Hasan overpowered him and threw off his aim, possibly saving the ex-premier from more serious gunshot wounds.

In a statement to the police, Naveed said he bought 26 bullets along with a pistol through a man named Waqas from Wazirabad.

During interrogation with major investigation agencies including Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), the suspect revealed that first he tried to attack the PTI chief from a roof of the mosque but he was not allowed to go there because of Asar prayers.

Naveed reached the crime scene through the bypass road where he asked the people participating in the march to turn off the loudspeaker playing party’s anthem.

The suspect also claimed that the guards on the container shot back at him and a bullet fired from them hit Moazam, the deceased march participant.

Earlier this month, a relative of the PTI chairman had moved an application to register an FIR against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Major General Faisal Naseer, the three suspects named by Imran behind the botched assassination attempt on his life.

However, the FIR was registered on the complaint of a sub-inspector police and the three top officials cited by the PTI chief have not been nominated in the case.

Shortly after the attack, PTI leader and former federal minister Asad Umar issued a video statement, accompanied by a fellow party member and provincial minister Aslam Iqbal.

In the statement, Umar disclosed that both of them had a conversation with Imran after the attack and the PTI chief revealed that he already had information about it.

The former minister said the PTI chief was certain that the men who had planned the attack were the prime minister, interior minister and a top military officer.

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