Police training centre carnage: CM Zehri to renew appeal for judicial panel

Published: December 4, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Provincial Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri will personally request the Balochistan High Court’s (BHC) chief justice to nominate a high court judge for a judicial inquiry into a militant attack on a police training college in Quetta last month, a senior official said.

About 62 newly inducted cadets were killed and at least 177 were injured when militants stormed the Police Training College in Quetta on Oct 24. Soon after the attack, CM Zehri had requested the chief justice to form a commission but his plea had remained unanswered.

“The chief minister will soon personally visit the chief justice in his office [to renew his request] for a commission,” Jan Achakzai, a special assistant to the CM, told The Express Tribune.

Another official source said constant pressure from parents of the victims had forced the CM to once again request the BHC top judge.

Almost all victims’ families have blamed the Balochistan police and its intelligence agencies for the security lapse which resulted in mass killing. Many of the parents have told The Express Tribune that only an independent probe into the incident could satisfy them.

61 killed, at least 165 injured as militants storm police training centre in Quetta

Meanwhile, the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) that had decided to investigate the incident is still waiting for a green-light from the provincial government to start its job.

The human rights body sent two letters and reminders to the provincial chief secretary in the first week of November seeking his assistance for conducting an investigation but it was not provided with the relevant information, said an NCHR member Fazila Alliani.

The NCHR took the initiative as an assignment by the Senate’s Functional Committee on Human Rights. The Senate committee in its meeting on October 27 tasked the commission to submit its report after conducting an investigation on five issues.

These include a probe into the standard operating procedures for security at the PTC before and after the attack; reasons for not taking precautionary measures to avoid attack despite a security alert; reasons for not constructing a boundary wall around the college; possible action that can be taken to avoid such incidents and updated position of the inquiry proceedings of the August 8 suicide attack.

Achakzai said the chief secretary had directed the relevant departments to prepare their reply to be forwarded to the NCHR but he was still waiting for the desired responses.

Almost all the slain recruits as well as those injured hailed from the most backward districts of Balochistan. Eighteen out of the total victims were from Turbat , 11 from Panjgur and two from Gwadar, 8 from Qilla Abdulah, three from Chaman and one from Pishin while the rest were from Khuzdar, Dera Bugti and other remote areas, where unemployment is a serious issue.

Serving Balochistan police has never been the first option for the youth of Quetta and few other major cities as the job involves grave risks. The policemen have been consistently targeted.

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Ammanullah Gichki, a Khuzdar-based senior politician and diplomat, is of the opinion that police service has become a lucrative job for the unemployed educated youth in the backward areas of Balochistan. “A salary of around Rs25, 000 per month is something for these young people,” he added.

Abdul Ghani, father of 25-year-old slain constable Sertaj Ghani from Turbat, told The Express Tribune that he was opposed to his son’s decision of joining the police service due to unsafe conditions for the forces’ personnel in the province.

However, the father was left with no other option but to accept his son’s choice due to acute joblessness among youth in Makran division.

Pasni’s Safar Baloch – whose first cousin, Shakeel Ahmed Baloch, 22, was one of those killed – also accused the police authorities of negligence. “It has been proved that a police job is not a secure proposition in the province,” he said.

Similar views were expressed by Saadullah Khan, an elder brother of a late constable Naqibullah Khan from Chaman. Fida Ahmed Khanaai of Pishin, who lost his close friend Muhammad Yousaf, 23, also demanded for a prompt and independent inquiry into the incident.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2016.

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