LAHORE: Ali Bilal, also known as Zill-i-Shah, a supporter of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party who died, reportedly in police custody, in Lahore Wednesday was in fact viciously assaulted before he passed away, reports citing sources confirmed.
The post-mortem examination, conducted by a three-member forensic team from General Hospital, revealed evidence of assault on his body, with the cause of death determined to be due to torture, GNN reported.
According to journalist Zarrar Khuhro, his post-mortem report says he was beaten. Separately, GNN reported it also indicated that Bilal, 34, died from shortness of breath during the assault.
Dawn Reporters seeing Post mortem reports of Ali Bilal say reports state he was beaten. Whether video of him in police van is old or new isn’t as important as the fact that there are clear signs of being hit on and near the head. Focusing on video alone is a distraction.
— Zarrar Khuhro (@ZarrarKhuhro) March 9, 2023
“Whether the video of him in a police van is old or new isn’t as important as the fact that there are clear signs of being hit on and near the head. Focusing on video alone is a distraction,” Khuhro noted.
The post-mortem report has also been shared with Mohsin Naqvi, caretaker chief minister of Punjab, and Javed Akram, specialised healthcare minister, but is yet to be made publicly available, the report said.
Naqvi is understood to have ordered an inquiry into the event.
Can a caretaker govt that can impose 144 to stop a political rally – holding such rallies is a right – and attack protestors be trusted to hold elections fairly? https://t.co/EW4WWTLwUA
— Zarrar Khuhro (@ZarrarKhuhro) March 9, 2023
Sharing the pictures of the deceased and the image of his identity card, former prime minister Imran Khan tweeted Bilal was unarmed when “murdered by the police”.
Ali Bilal unarmed & our dedicated & passionate PTI worker murdered by Punjab police. Shameful, this brutality on unarmed PTI workers who were coming to attend election rally. Pakistan is in the grip of murderous criminals. We will file cases against IG, CCPO & others for murder. pic.twitter.com/BLQZE1uejr
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 8, 2023
He said it was a shameful act that the caretaker government unleashed brutality on unarmed party workers coming to attend the scheduled election rally.
“Pakistan is in the grip of murderous criminals. We will file cases against [provincial police chief], [head of Lahore police] and others for the murder,” Khan said.
In another tweet, he posted a video showing Bilal sitting inside a prison van. “So he was killed while in police custody — such is the murderous bent of the present regime and Punjab police,” he lamented.
Being a doctor, I can interpret this postmodern report but I don't have words to explain the torture #ZillEshah
went through. He had 26 injuries on his body, and almost every part of his body was tortured brutally. Head injury and visceral injuries proved fatal. #زمان_پارک_پہنچو pic.twitter.com/y4sEwwi6P1
— Dr AsiK (@Niaxiam) March 9, 2023
Meanwhile, the United Nations has called for an investigation into the incident.
Farhan Haq, a spokesperson for Secretary General Antonio Guterres, in a statement, emphasized that people have the right to peaceful protest, and those who committed violence against demonstrators should be held accountable.
Guterres also appealed for calm and restraint to ease tensions in the region.
IGP sets up committee to probe PTI worker’s ‘murder’
Punjab Inspector General of Police Dr Usman Anwar has formed a “Fact Finding Committee” for a transparent and impartial investigation into the death of a PTI worker during a crackdown a day ago on those participating in the party’s rally following the imposition of Section 144 in Lahore.
DIG Headquarters Punjab has issued a notification for the two-member f Committee. The two-member committee consists of DIG Elite Force Sadiq Ali Dogar and SSPIAB, Capital City Police Lahore, Imran Kishor will conduct a detailed review of all aspects of the incident and submit a report within three days.
The committee will carry out inquiry into the “incidents of police clashes with [PTI] workers”, especially the death of Ali Bilal, a PTI worker who the party chairman Imran Khan alleged was “murdered by Punjab police”.
As the PTI was about to commence a rally yesterday to express its support for the judiciary, the government imposed Section 144, banning all kinds of gatherings.
Following the ban, police officials had taken scores of PTI workers into custody for violating the ban and used water cannons in an effort to disperse them which had led the PTI chairman to call off the rally.
The IGP has directed the committee to submit a report within three days after gathering statements from witnesses and all possible CCTV footage and video clips of the incident.
The notification listed seven questions that the committee has been tasked with investigating, four of which specifically pertaining to Bilal’s death.
The Punjab IGP asked what were the circumstances that led to Bilal’s death and when and where he died. He further asked if Bilal was in police custody “as reported on social media”.
The committee would also inquire “who took the deceased Bilal Ali to the hospital and what was the registration number of the vehicle”.
“Did the persons who brought him to the hospital take him to the medical team and disclose their whereabouts and from where was the deceased picked [up]?” the IGP asked.
Regarding the rally itself, the committee would look into its legal status and what led to the “clashes between the police and [PTI] workers”.
It would further ascertain the number of police officers and protestors who got injured during the incident.
DSP files FIR on Bilal’s death
Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Sabir Ali of Lahore’s Race Course police station filed an FIR late Wednesday night, alleging that a violent crowd of PTI workers attacked police personnel with stones and sticks, which resulted in Bilal’s death.
The FIR has been registered under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, Sections 147 (punishment for rioting), (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 290 (punishment for public nuisance in cases not otherwise provided for), 291 (continuance of nuisance after injunction to discontinue), 302 (punishment of qatl-i-amd), 324 (attempt to commit qatl-i-amd), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees) of the Pakistan Penal Code. The complainant said the party workers started throwing stones at the police after they asked the gathering to be dispersed due to Section 144 and named 13 police officials who got injured by the attack.
He said when the injured police officials were brought to Services Hospital for treatment, it was found that injured PTI workers had been brought to the same hospital as well.
The DSP said it was later found that one worker — later identified as Ali Bilal — had died and that six other PTI workers had been injured as well.
He added that the PTI workers had also caused great damage to three government vehicles.