LAHORE: Despite an ongoing legal battle, multiple sit-ins and protests, victims of the Model Town tragedy await justice. No conclusion has been reached in the case even after submission of reports by two Joint Investigation Teams (JITs) formed exclusively for investigating the case. The court has suspended the notification for the formation of a third JIT.
Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Chief Dr Tahirul Qadri will address party workers through video conference and announce the future strategy of his party on Monday (today). The incident, which gained international attention, remains the same as it was on June 17, 2014.
On the day of the incident, two women including, 14 people were killed while scores injured by police firing during an operation conducted on June 17, 2014 in Model Town to remove the security barriers installed in front of Dr Qadri's residence and Minhajul Quran's (MUQ) central secretariat.
LHC full bench on Model Town JIT challenged in SC
A few days later, an FIR of the incident was registered. The PAT members marched from Lahore to Islamabad, seeking justice for the deceased and injured people. The party also staged a prolonged sit-in in Islamabad, due to which, another FIR was registered on the Supreme Court’s (SC) directives.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Leader Khawaja Saad Rafique, former Punjab Inspector General (IG) Mushtaq Sakhera, Lahore District Coordination Officer (DCO) Captain (retd) Muhammad Usman and other government officials and officers were nominated in the FIR but no arrests were made.
PAT spokesperson Noorullah Siddiqui said three JITs have been created so far to look into the Model Town tragedy. “One JIT team was formulated as a result of the government's FIR while the second JIT was created on PAT’s FIR. Both the JITs formed on the directives of the former CM submitted their respective reports but no decision on the case has reached so far.”
One of the reasons was reportedly the predisposition of the teams who had prepared the reports in light of statements of one-sided witnesses and evidences.
Justice Baqar Najafi’s commission report has been submitted to the Lahore High Court (LHC). The report mentions that the police on the orders of LHC installed security barriers for which an operation had to be conducted for its removal. The government officers nominated in the case are presently working on different posts.
Former chief justice Saqib Nisar formulated a JIT before the larger bench after Bisma Amjad, daughter of Tanzeela Amjad, one of the victims of the carnage, moved a petition. The JIT for the first time recorded statements of the former premier in jail.
Similarly, statements of the former CM, former principal secretary to the CM Tauqir Shah, PML-N leaders Rana Sanaullah and Khawaja Asif and several police officers were recorded. The LHC, however, suspended the notification for the formation of the JIT and barred it from working. The PAT has appealed to the LHC and SC against the order. Hearing over the appeals has not been conducted.
Plea filed for information on Model Town JIT case
Bisma told The Express Tribune that her mother and aunt were murdered in the incident. “Why were my mother and aunt murdered? The state is responsible to answer what was their fault. I am struggling for justice for the past five years and I am hopeful that I won’t be disappointed."
Bisma added that the prime minister as part of opposition used to talk about serving justice to the Model Town victims. “Today I demand the prime minister to share with us when the families of the victims will get justice. The party demands that the impartial JIT be allowed to function so that justice can be served to the victims."
The PAT will observe the fifth anniversary of the Model Town tragedy in the same area on June 17 where the incident took place. The families of the injured victims and the dead ones will also participate. Candle vigils will be held in the memory of the departed souls.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 17th, 2019.
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