It is the new script of an old story of lawlessness and intoxication of power. It is the handiwork of Jhang police which eventually brought death to three peasants and injuries to many others.
They say power tends to corrupt. But it also intoxicates and the level of intoxication depends on the level of power. Two months ago, three people lost their lives over a land dispute near Sultan Bahu’s shrine in Shorkot, Jhang. Apparently, it was a family dispute between two rival sides over a piece of land but the details reveal an ugly picture of bad-governance of Jhang’s district management, especially police.
Member of National Assembly (MNA) Nazir Sultan leads one of the groups consisting of his nephews Mehboob Sultan (former MNA), Shehzad Sultan (sitting RPO Sheikhupura) and Sheharyar Sultan (Secretary Cooperatives Punjab) in this long-standing land dispute. Najeeb Sultan, a spiritual Pir represents the opposing party. The Nazir Sultan group wanted to take possession of a piece of land from Najeeb Sultan and had all the power it needed to execute their plan. It is a case of triple intoxication: an MNA, a police officer and a bureaucrat.
Even though Najeeb Sultan had been given a stay order by the court of Faisalabad commissioner on the disputed land, MNA Nazir Sultan, with the help of his nephews, secured an eviction warrant from the assistant commissioner and Tehsildar of Jhang to get possession of the land. It is pertinent to mention here that the Tehsildar of Jhang tehsil could not legally issue such orders for another tehsil, Shorkot in this case.
Jhang police boss, DPO Humayon Sindhu provided almost 300 policemen to MNA Nazir Sultan and company to facilitate the taking-over of the land. When Nazir Sultan’s men reached at the piece of land with 300 police personnel, Sahibzada Najeeb Sultan’s men produced the stay order before the would-be possessors. The result: it was torn into pieces. Nazir Sultan’s brother in police had backed him completely – blood, it appears, is thicker than law.
As the argument got heated, violence ensued between the two sides which took lives of three persons while dozens of others were injured.
By the time the bloody standoff ended, there were two persons dead on Najeeb Sultan’s side and one on Nazir Sultan’s. Dozens of Mureeds of Najeeb Sultan also sustained serious injuries. Both parties filed applications for registration of FIRs. Again, the police sided with the powerful MNA, Nazir Sultan, whose FIR was registered while Najeeb Sultan’s application was made a ‘cross version’ to weaken its legal status even though they had suffered more losses and the opposing party had tried to take possession of the land in violation of the stay order and through threat of force. The FIR was registered this way to save the skins of Jhang officials who had issued the eviction warrant illegally and the police high-ups who had provided force to Nazir Sultan’s group.
Ali Nawaz, the brother-in-law of Najeeb Sultan was nominated in the FIR saying, “He was firing”. Ali Nawaz, however, disputes this allegation saying he was in Lahore that day. Talking to Pakistan Today Ali Nawaz said that the whole incident occurred due to mala fide intentions of the Jhang district administration and police. “First they issued warrant Dakhal (eviction warrant) against the stay order of Faisalabad commissioner and then the DPO provided them the police force to illegally deliver them the possession of the land.”
The Najeeb Sultan group claims that the seriously injured people from their side were denied the necessary medical treatment and were put behind bars by Jhang DPO Humayon Sindhu just to ‘hide his incompetence and haste’ in dealing with the incident. “DPO Humayon Sindhu did not even allow MLRs (medico-legal reports) of the injured people,” a member of the group claim.
As the situation worsened, some other MNAs and MPAs from the Jhang district also started to intervene and throw their weight around. When Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif was apprised about the injustice of the Jhang police and administration, he, under tremendous pressure from MNAs and MPAs, transferred the interrogation of the case to Sargodha police. Despite the fact that the case had been transferred to Sargodha police, the Jhang DPO arrested Akram Butt, a close aide of Najeeb Sultan who was also nominated in Nazir Sultan’s FIR.
For now the ball is in Zulfiqar Hameed’s court. He is RPO Sargodha, and a police officer with uncompromised reputation for honesty and transparency.
“Now we can hope that justice will prevail and we will not be victimised by the powerful nexus of Nazir Sultan and his nephews,” Ali said. He further said that the RPO was being assisted by two SPs Liaqat Ali and Abdul Rab who were also known as honest police officials.
A source in Sargodha police told this correspondent that in the very first interrogation session, MNA Nazir Sultan tried influencing the RPO by name-dropping Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan but the RPO remained impressed.
When contacted, Nazir Sultan said that the real owner of the said land was his nephew Habib Sultan and it was illegally occupied by his maternal step uncle Najeeb Sultan. He claimed that no stay order had been issued on the said piece of land and denied that his nephews Shehzad and Sheharyar had taken any part in the incident.