–Punjab govt backs CTD’s Sahiwal ‘operation’, its law minister says force acted on ‘solid evidence’ against alleged IS terrorist
–Govt to make JIT report public within next three days as bereaved family buries their dead
LAHORE: Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat on Sunday said the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) had carried out the “Sahiwal operation on the basis of solid evidence and a Da’esh [Islamic State] terrorist Zeeshan was killed resultantly.”
On Saturday, three members of a family were killed during a shootout between the CTD and suspected terrorists near Sahiwal. Khalil, a grocer in Kot Lakhpat, Lahore, his wife Nabeela, their 13-year-old daughter, and their neighbour, Zeeshan, were on their way to a wedding in Burewala when they were killed in firing on their car near the toll plaza on GT Road in the Qadirabad area.
Raja Basharat, while addressing a joint press conference in Lahore along other provincial ministers, said, “We are not issuing a charge sheet against anybody for now. We will wait for the joint investigation team (JIT)’s report.”
He said the surveillance cameras of the Safe City Project had captured Zeeshan’s car with cars of terrorists on January 13. The Safe City cameras were inspected from January 13 to 18 and Zeeshan’s relation with the terrorists was established, he added.
The law minister said it had been confirmed that Zeeshan was working with IS terrorists. According to the intelligence information, the alleged terrorist was carrying explosive material in the car, he added.
The provincial law minister termed the killing of innocent family as “collateral damage” caused during law-enforcement personnel’s attempt to eliminate a terror suspect.
“As soon as the CTD officials stopped their vehicle, fire was opened at them. Zeeshan was driving the car and the car had tinted glasses, therefore, Khalil’s family suffered loss,” he repeated the CTD officials’ stance.
He said the CTD officials had recovered weapons, explosives and hand grenade from the car. He said it had to be established whether fire was opened from within the car first, and that what relation Zeeshan had with Khalil.
Basharat claimed that Punjab could have suffered big destruction if the terrorists were not chased. He said the Sahiwal operation was carried out on the basis of an intelligence report; however, deaths of Khalil and his family had made it controversial.
He said the prime minister and Punjab chief minister had taken notice of the Sahiwal firing incident and the Punjab government had formed a joint investigation team to investigate the incident. He said an FIR had been registered in the killing incident and the CTD officials were arrested apart from suspension of their supervisor.
The law minister said the government had announced to provide financial assistance to the victim’s family and take responsibility of education of their children.
“The law enforcers take good care of this fact that they carry operation at such a place where innocents do not get hurt. The CTD officials did not intend to hurt Khalil’s family,” he said.
Raja Basharat said the JIT had to decide most of the aspects of the incident and the government would implement its decision as it will be.
“Those responsible will be brought to justice. The JIT’s report will be made public in the next three days and we will accept this report instead of the CTD version,” he said.
A first information report (FIR), number 33/19, was registered against 16 CTD officials involved in the killing.
They were taken into custody on Saturday and a case has been registered under articles of murder and terrorism. The FIR was lodged by the brother of deceased Mohammad Khalil.
Jalil, brother of deceased Khalil, said that the victims’ bodies will not be buried until justice is served.
However, later in the day, the authorities assured Jalil of the provision of justice in his brother’s case after which relatives of the bereaved family announced to end their protest and laid to rest the victims of the shootout, including Khalil, his wife and daughter, in a Lahore cemetery.