Claims that Shahbaz Gill was tortured during arrest are false
CCTV footage shows Shahbaz Gill was detained peacefully, assistant safe as well
Claim: Social media users, especially those aligned with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), allege that former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s aide, Shahbaz Gill, and his driver were beaten by police while being arrested in Islamabad on 9 August 2020.
Fact: CCTV footage of the arrest shows Shahbaz Gill was shifted to another vehicle peacefully and not tortured; his driver was not beaten either. Police officers only broke through the window of Gill’s car to open the door.
On 9 August 2022, social media was abuzz with video and posts claiming Imran Khan’s aide, Shahbaz Gill, and his assistant were tortured by police while Gill was being arrested in Islamabad. Numerous prominent social media users, including politicians and journalists with verified accounts, have regurgitated this assertion.
Facebook page ‘Zafar Cheema Pti World America Official’, for example, posted a video with the following caption:
“ڈاکٹر شہباز گل کی گرفتاری کی پرزور مزمت کرتے ہیں جس طریقے سے گرفتار کیا گیا یہ گرفتاری نہیں غنڈہ گردی ہے گرفتاری کے دوران گاڑی کے شیشے توڑ دیے گئے اور ڈاکٹر شہباز گل پر تشدد کیا گیا اب وقت قریب ہے قوم ایک ایک ظلم کا حساب لے گی [We strongly strongly condemn the arrest of Dr Shahbaz Gill. The manner in which he was arrested is thuggery, not an arrest. The windows of the car were broken and Dr Shahbaz Gill tortured during arrest. Now, the time is near for the nation to take account of each and every injustice.]”
The clip shows the aftermath of Gill’s arrest, with what appears to be the voice of his assistant in the background.
The fiasco erupted following Gill’s remarks on ARY News that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) alleged were “hateful and seditious” and led to the channel being taken off-air in numerous parts of Pakistan.
Further, the PTI, on its official Facebook page ‘Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’, posted a video statement from Gill’s assistant, in which he stated the following:
“We were going from Bani Gala … There were 15-20 cars [that surrounded us], all of them without [vehicle registration] number plates and with black-tinted windows. They did not show us any warrant or any paper [document]. They forced him [Shahbaz Gill] out of the car, broke the windows with the butts of Kalashnikovs, as if there was a terrorist inside. I was sitting inside quietly. They kicked and handcuffed him [Gill] as if he was escaping after a murder or a similar crime. They also tortured me, stopped me, hit me on the back with Kalashnikovs, and asked me to provide his [Gill’s] mobile [phone] and demanded his data. I did not give it to them … they tortured me, they put him [Gill] in their cars, [which were] 15-20 in number, all private cars with no number plates and with black-tinted windows.”
Fact or Fiction?
Soch Fact Check investigated the claim that Gill and his assistant were tortured during the arrest.
Journalists Azaz Syed and Asad Ali Toor, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif’s political secretary Zeeshan Malik, and satirist Khalid Butt posted the CCTV footage of Shahbaz Gill’s arrest on social media. A longer version can be found here.
The footage clearly shows at least three Islamabad police officers in their traditional uniforms, a few others in black uniforms, some Anti-Terrorist Squad personnel, two police mobile vans, and four cars — including one Suzuki Mehran (white) and three Toyota Corollas (black, white, and silver).
In the video, these vehicles surround Gill’s car and officers try to get him to step outside. When Gill does not leave the car, one of the officers uses his gun to break the rear-side window and unlocks the vehicle, following which Gill steps out and is taken to another car without being handcuffed.
Neither Gill nor his assistant were tortured during the arrest. CCTV footage then shows Gill’s assistant parking the car on the side of the road.
Claims by Gill’s assistant
Three video statements by Gill’s assistant surfaced on social media. The first clip shows him standing next to the car without any bandages, the second clip shows him wearing an arm sling, and viewers can hear him narrating the third clip. However, all his statements are inconsistent.
His statements are reproduced below:
- First video: “I was not opening [the locks of] the car. They forced us on to the side and tortured me … look at my condition, my neck. They handcuffed him [Gill] and broke the car’s windows with Kalashnikovs, they hit the windows as if he [Gill] is a terrorist, they dragged and pulled him. There were about 8-10 cars … there were numerous cars. They injured me and I have sustained many wounds. They have arrested him [Gill].”
- Second video: “We were going from Bani Gala … there were 15-20 cars, all without [vehicle registration] number plates and black-tinted windows … they did not show us any warrant or any paper [document] … they forced Gill out of the car, broke the windows with the butts of Kalashnikovs, as if there was a terrorist in the car … I was sitting inside quietly … they kicked him [Gill] and handcuffed him as if he was escaping after a murder or a similar crime… they also tortured me, stopped me, and hit me on the back with Kalashnikovs, asking me to provide his [Gill’s] mobile [phone] and where is his data, I did not give it to them, they tortured me, they put him in their cars, which were 15-20 in number, all private cars with no number plates and with black-tinted windows.”
- Third video: “He [Gill] was pushed. … They beat me too but I sped away in the car from the side.”
In the first video, he claims that he was tortured and assaulted, Gill was dragged, pulled, and handcuffed, and there were 8-10 police cars.
In the second video, he claims that he was hit on the neck with Kalashnikovs, Gill was kicked, and there were 15-20 cars.
In the third video, he claims he sped away in the car from the side.
According to CCTV footage, neither of the two were beaten, tortured or assaulted. However, Soch Fact Check has not investigated if Gill was tortured after his arrest.
FIR has been registered on behalf of the state in the Kohsar Police Station. The accused will be presented in the court tomorrow morning and the court will decide. It has become pretty obvious that IK wants to divide the nation by giving air to provocative statements. (2/2)
— Rana SanaUllah Khan (@RanaSanaullahPK) August 9, 2022
Moreover, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan, in a statement, announced that Gill’s arrest was “on account of sedition charges according to the law” and that a first information report (FIR) was “registered on behalf of the state in the Kohsar Police Station”.
Facebook pages ‘PTI Official Videos’ and ‘PTI Azad Kashmir’, the latter of which is verified, posted a video of PTI leader Iftikhar Durrani speaking about a “hideous game” aimed at pushing Pakistan towards “anarchy”. Both posts included the following caption:
“اس وقت پاکستان کو انتشار کی طرف دھکیلنے کے لیے گھناؤنا کھیل کھیلا جا رہا ہے آج اس پاک دن کے تقدس کو بھی امپورٹڈ حکومت نے پامال کر کے شہباز گل پر تشدد کر کے ان کو اغوا کیا گیا، اگر اداروں کے خلاف عوام کا اکسانے کا مقدمہ بنایا گیا ہے تو نواز شریف زرداری اور پوری ن لیگ اور پی پی پر بھی مقدمے بننے چاہیے کیونکہ ان لوگوں نے فوج کے خلاف بغاوت کی ہے اور 2016 سے مسلسل کر رہے ہیں۔ رہنما تحریک انصاف افتخار درانی [At present, a hideous game is being played to push Pakistan towards anarchy. Today, the imported government violated the sanctity of this holy day by torturing and kidnapping Shahbaz Gill. If a case has been registered over incitement of the public against the institutions, then cases should be registered against Nawaz Sharif, Zardari, and the entire PML-N and PPP because these people have rebelled against the army and have been doing so continuously since 2016. Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Iftikhar Durrani.]”
Furthermore, the Facebook page ‘DiL DiL Pakistan’ posted a picture of Shahbaz Gill — former PM Khan’s aide and his chief of staff — with the caption, “شہباز گل پر بدترین تشدد کیا ہے۔۔ [Shahbaz Gill subjected to the worst torture].” The picture shows Gill with a bandage over his left eye, apparently sitting in a hospital room.
However, this image is misleading as well, since it is from March 2021 when Shahbaz Gill — then the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Political Communications — had eggs and ink thrown at him as he arrived at the Lahore High Court (LHC) for a hearing.
Facebook pages such as ‘Daily Jiddat Karachi’, ‘Duki News 1’, and ‘Bahawalpur Ky Piary Log’, as well as user ‘M Ishaque Baloch’, shared similar claims in the form of tickers that they attributed to the 2:30 PM ARY News bulletin from 9 August 2022.
Additionally, blogger Rana Uzair posted a video on his Facebook page ‘Rana Uzair Speaks’ titled and captioned, “Breaking news! Video ! How Shehbaz Gill Beaten By Na Maloom Afrad During Arrest | Imran khan.” In the video, Uzair talks about a “blood-filled plan” that will lead Pakistan to “civil war”, as well as an alleged plot to assassinate former PM Imran Khan as “The Neutrals” — colloquial for the country’s military — have “become alarmed” over the ongoing political situation. Uzair also states that Gill was “allegedly abducted”, his car “attacked”, and his assistant “beaten mercilessly and tortured”. The video has already raked up over 27,000 views.
The title and caption of Uzair’s video are misleading and he also makes numerous unverified claims, including about Gill’s arrest that Soch Fact Check has disproved above. In addition, the caption includes the phrase, “Na Maloom Afrad [unidentified individuals],” which is also false since police officials are clearly visible in the CCTV footage of Gill’s arrest.
Furthermore, former PM Khan, former federal ministers Fawad Chaudhry, Shireen Mazari, and Murad Saeed, and former aide to the prime minister Usman Dar shared the aforementioned claims through their social media accounts, while a Twitter user impersonating ARY News anchorperson Sabir Shakir (his real account can be accessed here and is archived here) also shared the misleading claim.
Other misleading posts on Twitter can be found here, here, here, here, here, and here. The image of Gill from the March 2021 egging incident was shared here, here, here, and here. This post on Instagram received more than 700 likes.
Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the one-day period from 9 August to 10 August using the following search terms:
- “shahbaz gill”
- “شہباز گل پر تشدد”
- “شہباز گل زدوکوب”
The first search term turned up 3,797 Facebook posts that gained 738,021 interactions and 125 Instagram posts that raked in 132,964 interactions.
The second search term turned up 742 Facebook posts and 10 Instagram posts that gained 104,719 interactions and 7,080 interactions, respectively.
The third search term, on the other hand, only turned up results on Facebook, with 3,458 interactions across 22 posts.
Conclusion: CCTV footage shows Shahbaz Gill was shifted to another vehicle peacefully and neither he nor his assistant were tortured during the arrest. Police officers broke through the window of Gill’s car in order to open the door.