Model Town clash: JIT report suggests police FIR be quashed

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Pakistan News Agency: ISLAMABAD: Representatives of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the clash in Lahore’s Model Town between police and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) in June have recommended that the FIR registered by police earlier should be quashed as PAT has not accepted the FIR as legitimate and no witnesses have come forward to record their statements. They added that the police have ‘hidden facts’, The Express Tribune has learned.

In a one-page dissent note attached to the 32-page JIT report, two JIT representatives further stated that the chain of command has not been properly interrogated. Comprising 10 members, the JIT team is headed by Additional Inspector General Special Branch Dr Arif Mushtaq Chaudhry. The other nine members include representatives of the ISI, MI, IB, police, Special Branch and Counterterrorism Department.

The JIT report states that there are many ‘inconsistencies’ found when the statements of the officials concerned in the incident are compared. Officials ranging from constables to the DIG were interviewed during the investigation. Additionally, the record of issuance of weapons and bullets did not match the record and statements of police officials.

A Punjab government spokesperson clarified that the report was received and has been deemed ‘inconclusive’. A request was made to the High Court for the provision of the missing documents so that the report may be reviewed. A committee has been constituted to carry out a detailed analysis of the report and make recommendations.

The JIT pointed out nine police officials, noting their names, ranks and the nature of their weapons. These officials were ex-SHO PS Sabza Zar Inspector Sheikh Amir Saleem, Sub Inspector Elite Force Hafiz Athar Mehmood, Head Constable Elite Force Muhammad Naveed, Head Constable Elite Force Khurram Rafique, SP Security Suleman Ali Khan, ex-SHO PS Shadman Sheikh Asim, Constable Elite Force Nisar, Driver/Constable Ubaid and Constable Riaz Baber.

The report adds that there is no record to establish if there was firing from the Minhajul Quran Secretariat. Police, hospital and other records have been examined but some police officials were reluctant to record statements, the report says. Some relevant records have also not been provided to the JIT, according to the report.

Of the nine accused, four accused police officials – Sheikh Amir Saleem, Hafiz Athar Mehmood, Muhammad Naveed and Khurram Rafique – have been arrested and investigations have been completed in their cases. SP Security Suleman Ali Khan, Sheikh Asim, Nisar, Ubaid and Riaz Baber are still at large. The JIT directed SHO Police Station Faisal Town to obtain warrants for these five officials.

The Investigation Officer also received an application from PAT, submitted by Director PAT Muhammad Jawad Hamad and a writ petition lodged by Advocate Nauman Atiq.

In its application, PAT claimed that during the crackdown on the party’s headquarters, DIG Operation Lahore continuously took orders from some higher authority. According to SP Security, he had not called the Elite Force and Mujahid Force but according to the Mujahid Force’s record, and the Elite Force in-charge, they were called on the SP Security’s orders.

According to the Elite Force in-charge, 469 rounds of SMG and 59 rounds of G3 Rifle were fired during the clash. However, he subsequently told the JIT that SP Elite Abdul Raheem Sherazi had ordered him to change the record.

The police operation started at 12:30 am between June 16 and 17, but PAT workers were killed between 11:30 am and 12:30 pm on June 17, the JIT report stated.

Commissioner Lahore Division Rashid Mehmood informed the JIT that the decision to remove the barricades around the party secretariat was taken in a meeting chaired by Rana Sanaullah, the law minister at the time, on June 16, the JIT stated. Express Tribune

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