–Chief Justice Khan summons Sahiwal JIT head with complete record of probe on Jan 28
LAHORE: Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Sardar Shamim Ahmed Khan on Thursday ordered Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Amjad Saleemi to ensure that incidents such as the Sahiwal fake encounter do not recur in the province, as he formed a two-judge bench to hear a petition seeking a judicial inquiry into the incident which resulted in the killing of four people on January 19.
On Jan 19, Khalil, a resident of Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat area, his wife Nabeela, their 13-year-old daughter Areeba, and their neighbour Zeeshan, were on their way to a wedding in Burewala when personnel of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) opened fire on their car near the toll plaza on GT Road in the Qadirabad area, killing them instantly. The killings sent a shock wave across the country as one of the three surviving children, who were witness to the episode, denied the official version in a video that went viral on social media.
While hearing the petition, Chief Justice Khan pointed out that forming a judicial commission is the prerogative of the federal government, not the provincial government. The petitioner responded that a request in this regard had been submitted to the federal government.
The petitioner’s counsel told the court that the statements of every witness had not been recorded, upon which the CJ asked IG Saleemi about the progress made so far in the investigation. The police official responded that the CTD officials who took part in the encounter had been arrested and a joint investigation team had been formed to probe the incident.
“How long will the inquiry take?” Chief Justice Khan inquired. Saleemi replied that a detailed probe would require “at least 30 days”.
“The CTD officials [who were involved] have also been suspended,” the police chief added.
“IG sahab, this is very cruel,” Justice Khan said at one point. “Tell me, how does the police have the authority to spray someone with bullets?”
The chief justice warned that such an incident “should not take place anywhere in Punjab again”.
“Tell all your district police officers,” he asserted.
Justice Khan then summoned the head of the JIT, Additional Inspector General Ijaz Hussain Shah, along with a complete record of the body’s findings in the next hearing to be held on Jan 28.
The JIT had presented a preliminary report on its investigation earlier this week, in which it held the CTD officials responsible for the killings of three “innocent” family members.
The team has sought additional time to investigate further and ascertain facts concerning Zeeshan Javaid, the fourth person killed in the operation, who the Punjab government and CTD maintain has links with a terrorist outfit.
PM SUMMONS PUNJAB CM:
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Imran Khan summoned Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to discuss the investigation into the Sahiwal incident.
According to reports, the premier was irked over how the aftermath of the tragedy was handled by the Punjab government. Moreover, PM Imran sought the chief minister’s advice regarding reforms in Punjab police.
Meanwhile, the vehicle involved in the Sahiwal tragedy was sent for forensic examination on Thursday. The forensic audit will be done to determine whether or not any shots were fired from inside the vehicle.
It will also determine the distance and the number of bullets fired at the vehicle by the CTD officials.