The project director of the Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA) regularly uses ‘abusive and derogatory language’ while dealing with highly qualified forensic scientists and has even threatened to terminate their contracts, alleged a number of victims in an application forwarded to the Punjab chief minister and provincial home secretary.
Nayyar Mehmood, who heads the PFSA’s Programme Implementation Unit, always humiliates and demoralises scientists just to express his hegemony over them as he fears someone will disclose his ‘wrongdoings’, victims wrote in the application
According to the application, four highly qualified forensic scientists alleged that on May 19, Mehmood called a meeting of contractors, vendors and four DNA scientists to discuss the specifications of Fume Hood apparatus.
During the meeting, the scientists informed others about the specification of apparatus, but Mehmood did not seem satisfied with their presentation.
He scolded Dr Nouman Rasool and Dr Zawar Hussain in the presence of participants and warned them of “dire consequences”.
When Muhammad Asif, one of the scientists, interfered, Mehmood grabbed him by the neck and dragged him out of the office and threatened to terminate his contract.
On May 22, PFSA Deputy Director Ziaur Rehman, on behalf of Mehmood, illegally detained Asif in his office, insisting he make a compromise, alleged the scientist while talking to The Express Tribune.
However, Asif refused to compromise and Rehman asked for an explanation. All four scientists (Dr Nauman Rasool, Muhammad Asif, Dr Zawar Hussain and Nasir Siddique) were asked to explain why they challenged the viewpoint of foreign consultant Dr Muhammad Ashraf Tahir regarding the requirement of compressed air in the DNA section of the laboratory. They were directed to explain their position within three days.
The scientists told The Express Tribune that in January, the laboratory conducted a six-day training course for investigation officers of the police for the use and application of forensic science in investigations. Mehmood enrolled his son, a LLB student, and awarded him a certificate in clear violation of training ethics and rules.
The scientists alleged that their salaries were being given from a bank situated in DHA, 30 kilometres away from where they were posted, as the manager of the bank was Mehmood’s friend.
The scientists requested the chief minister to constitute a committee to probe the irregularities committed in the construction, procurement and other administrative issues of the lab. They said that a polygraph test should be carried out to sort out truth regarding their grievances.
The Punjab government had planned to construct a state-of-the-art forensic science laboratory at a cost of Rs2.5 billion in the outskirts of Lahore. The home department recruited 30 forensic scientists in August 2009.The government awarded the contract to Al Imam Enterprises and HA constructors, who were given a deadline of July 2010 to complete the project. Even after a lapse of 10 months, the laboratory is yet to be completed.
Although Nayyar Mehmood did not deny the occurrence of the incident, he insisted that he did not commit a crime. “If they think I did, they should get a criminal case registered against me,” he said. “I will answer the allegations if the competent authority seeks my point of view”.
The PD added that some scientists were using various tactics to defame his reputation and the laboratory’s progress so far. He also said that the completion of the project was near.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2011.