The brothers Mughees and Muneeb Butt were not robbers. So states categorically the investigative report in the Sialkot lynching case prepared by Director-General Anti-corruption Kazim Malik.
The report was presented to the three-member Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, which was hearing the suo motu case regarding the two brothers who were tortured by a mob and then strung up at the site of the water tank of a Rescue 1122 station last month.
The report states that there had been no case of mobile snatching registered against the two and till the time of the incident, there was no pending FIR against them in any police station. According to Malik, investigation officer Shahanshah Bukhari and medico-legal officer Dr Farooq, who conducted the autopsies, deliberately downplayed their findings and wrote up weak reports. In his recommendations, Malik has suggested that the bodies be exhumed and be examined again.
Malik has also condemned the Rescue 1122 workers, who he said initially seemed to have fulfilled their duties but later appeared to be complicit to the murder. According to the second investigation report submitted by Additional Inspector-General Punjab Police Mushtaq Sukhera, ex-district police officer Waqar Chohan was involved in the incident as the dead bodies of the two were strung up at the water tank in his presence.
According to the report, police officials present at the crime scene encouraged the people to kill the brothers and are so, liable of murder as are the eyewitnesses of the incident.
While recognising that there was no precedent for making such reports public, the bench called Advocate-General Punjab Khwaja Harris to the rostrum and directed him to make the reports public and monitor the progress of investigations.
Sukhera admitted that the incident had put a question mark on the role of police but assured the bench of tough action against the involved policemen. He also told the bench that the no villager was willing to give evidence but that his department had arrested 17 people and 10 police officials. SHO Rana Ilyas and other three police officials, said Sukhera, were on the run.
The chief justice then asked Sukhera about the status of the investigation into the murder of Bilal, who was shot by Mughees before the brothers were captured by the mob. Sukhera directed the questions towards DPO Sialkot Nasir Qureshi, who he said was investigating the theory that the brothers were killed in retaliation for Bilal’s death from the gunshot wound. However, Qureshi’s answers failed to satisfy the court.
Adjourning the case till Thursday (today), the chief justice directed AIG Mushtaq to continue with the investigation and to submit the challan in concerned courts on its conclusion. He also directed the concerned courts to look into the matter expeditiously.
While praising the efforts of Dunya News reporter Hafiz Imran in highlighting the story, the chief justice told the AIG to provide him with security as the journalist had been attacked twice. Chaudhry also asked the police to immediately arrest the absconders.
Outside the court, the brothers’ father Amjad Butt expressed relief that his sons had posthumously been absolved of charges of robbery. When the family was presented with a million-rupee cheque as compensation by the Punjab government, they added a hundred thousand rupees to the amount and returned it to bearer Khwaja Asif to have it deposited in the Chief Minister’s flood relief fund.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 2nd, 2010.