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Photo of tear gas shells is from 2020, not Zaman Park

The shells were fired at TLP protestors in November 2020

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Claim: A photo shows a pile of tear gas shells used by police against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s supporters during the recent Zaman Park clashes in March 2022. 

Fact: The photo shows tear gas shells used by police against Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan in November 2020 during an anti-France protest in Islamabad. 

Clashes broke out between the police and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporters on 14 March 2023 ahead of PTI chief Imran Khan’s possible arrest outside his residence in Zaman Park, Lahore. Law enforcement agencies claim they were following a court order, however, a number of lawyers have challenged this assertion. 

Fact or Fiction?

On 15 March 2023, lawyer Khadija Siddiqi shared a photo claiming that it shows tear gas shells fired at PTI supporters and protesters at Zaman Park Lahore.

“وطن کی مٹی، گواہ رہنا! [The soil of the homeland, be a witness!],” her tweet reads. 

The location on the photo is labelled “Zaman Park, Lahore.”

Taking a cue from comments on social media that pointed out the photo shows tear gas shells fired at TLP when PTI was in power, Soch Fact Check searched Google with the search term “Tear gas shells TLP protest.” It led us to an article by Voice of America that features a photo by AFP. 

Activists and supporters of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) gather beside empty tear gas shells fired by police during an anti-France demonstration in Islamabad, Nov. 16, 2020,” the photo is captioned.

A similar photo of tear gas shells was also posted by photo agency Alamy on 16 November 2020, with the caption, “Activists of Tehreek e Labik (Labbaik) Pakistan (TLP) are holding protest demonstration against publication of blasphemous sketches of the Prophet Mohammed.” The photo was taken in Islamabad. 

The TLP supporters staged a protest in Pakistan’s capital city, demanding the expulsion of the French ambassador and an end of diplomatic ties with France over perceived Islamophobia. The police used tear gas and batons on protesters.

A comparison graphic below shows the similarities between the viral photo and the Alamy photo.

While reports by Al Jazeera, Voice of America , CNN and Dawn suggest that police did use tear gas to disperse PTI supporters at Zaman Park on 14 March 2023, the photo in question is actually from a 2020 protest.

Virality:

It was shared here, here, here and here on Facebook. The post by Zartaj Gul’s fan page received 115 likes and 26 shares. 

On Twitter, the photo can also be found in a collage posted by PTI’s Dr Yasmin Rashid, as well as here, here, here and here.

Khadija’s tweet gained traction with 12,000 people viewing the post, 309 retweets and 525 likes as of writing time. 

Conclusion: The photo is from November 2020, when clashes erupted between the police and TLP workers in Islamabad at an anti-France protest. It is neither recent nor from Zaman Park.

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