LAHORE: The Dolphin Squad, a force established to protect citizens, is slowly gaining the reputation of being ‘trigger-happy’. In another incident reported on Saturday, officials allegedly shot and killed a woman during a confrontation in Nishter Colony.
The victim was identified as Nasreen Waris Maseeh. Speaking to The Express Tribune, the victim’s husband Waris Maseeh stated that they were on the back to Youhanabad from the Punjab Institute of Cardiology. However, when they were near Bank Stop, Ashiana Road, Dolphin Squad Team No 192 opened fire.
As a result, the victim sustained a bullet injury to the head. She was rushed to the hospital, but could not survive.
“Instead of helping us tend to Nasreen [the victim], officials started misbehaving when they were questioned about their motives for shooting,” he revealed. Waris Maseeh termed the accident an act of ‘terrorism’.
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After receiving information of the incident, DIG Operations Ashfaq Khan, SSP Operations Ismail Kharak, Dolphin Squad SP Bilal Zafar, Model Town SP Imran Ahmad Malik and other senior police officials reached the scene.
On the other hand, police claimed that a few suspects were travelling to Kot Lakhpat when officials signalled for them to pull over. However, the suspects ignored their instructions and opened fire. The Dolphin Squad retaliated and the victim was hit by a stray bullet.
An FIR, under charges of murder and negligence, has been registered against the officials. Meanwhile, Dolphin Squad SP Bilal Zafar suspended the officials and also ordered an inquiry against them.
When contacted, Dolphin Squad SP Bilal Zafar stated that the incident was a clear violation of the police’s standard operating procedures. “Officials are not allowed to take any such actions which may endanger the lives of citizens,” he maintained.
He revealed that an FIR has been registered against the accused. “The law will take its due course,” he stated, adding that the force was not condoning the incident.
The squad was established by the previous government at the cost of billions of rupees. They were provided sports bikes and sophisticated weapons, while millions were spent on their training. The purpose behind investing this much time, effort and money was to build a professional, skilled and modern force.
However, the Dolphin Squad has not managed to live up to these expectations. In November 2018, the force shot and killed an intellectually challenged man in Gulshan-e-Ravi.
According to witnesses, the victim, identified as Umair, was suffering from a mental illness. The victim had found a knife and was attacking pedestrians on a road and had managed to injure a few people.
A Dolphin Squad team, responding to a call received on the helpline, reached the spot and tried to subdue the victim by aerial firing to no avail. However, instead of using physical strength to overpower Umair, they opened fire. The victim sustained a bullet injury to the chest and died on the spot.
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His body was shifted to the Jinnah Hospital where it was revealed that he suffered from a mental illness. According to the SSP at the time, the official had opened fire on the assailant to protect himself. Dolphin Squad SP Bilal Zafar stated that the incident was an act of self-defence.
In June 2018, a teenage boy was shot dead in an ‘encounter’ between the Dolphin Force and suspected robbers on Band Road. Police said that they were chasing the suspects’ car when they opened fire. Officials retaliated and a teenage boy was caught in the crossfire.
He died on the spot. The suspects were arrested by the police. However, no weapon was found in their possession.
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has taken a notice of the killing of the woman on Ferozepur Road. He sought a report from the IGP and ordered an investigation into the incident. Buzdar concluded that justice should be provided to the family of the victim.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2019.