Punjab police clueless about journalist Imran Riaz's whereabouts

IGP Dr Usman tells LHC anchorperson may have 'deliberately hidden himself' as police is unable to trace him

Rana Yasif May 19, 2023
Anchorperson Imran Riaz Khan. PHOTO: FILE


Inspector General of Punjab Police (IGP) Dr Usman Anwar failed to satisfy Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti of the Lahore High Court on Friday as he struggled to respond to a barrage of questions regarding the case of "missing" anchorperson Imran Riaz Khan.

At times, the IGP appeared clueless about how to answer the chie justice's questions.

During court proceedings, the IGP Punjab was repeatedly asked why the police system had failed to locate the anchorperson. In response, he dismissed the notion that the anchorperson had been kidnapped. Instead, he suggested, the anchorperson may have deliberately hidden himself, making it difficult for the police to trace him.

Dr Usman provided the court with an update on the actions taken by the police and their plans for the future. He mentioned that they had initiated the process of geo-fencing, collected data from telcos, reviewed CCTV footage, contacted NADRA for the identification process, and collaborated with agencies such as FIA, IB, ISI, and others. He assured the court that they would exert every effort to locate the anchorperson, but requested more time.

In response, Chief Justice Bhatti remarked, "So, you mean to say that you people are helpless?"

Read more: Journalist Imran Riaz seeks removal of his name from no-fly list

The emotions in the courtroom escalated when the father of Imran Riaz Khan took the floor and addressed the IG Punjab. He pleaded, "Please, kill my son so that we can stop thinking about him. What kind of game are the police and law enforcement institutions playing? Will you respond in the same manner if your son is kidnapped tomorrow?"

Advocate Azhar Siddique, representing Imran Riaz Khan, highlighted that although the IGP delivered a lengthy speech about their efforts, including the collection of CCTV footage and data examination, he questioned whether the IG Punjab had identified the individuals who took Imran with them and whether they had traced the vehicle used in his abduction.

Specifically, he inquired about the vehicle with a Gujranwala number plate that allegedly transported Imran from the jail to Abbas Line. Advocate Azhar Siddique further demanded answers regarding these aspects.

In response to the request for information, the IGP asked Advocate Azhar Siddique to share the details with him. He questioned that if the police expected information to be shared from their side, what kind of expectations should they have from the police?

CJ Bhatti intervened and directed the video clip to be played in the courtroom. Most of the video clips provided to the court by the police were deemed insignificant, except for one showing Imran Riaz Khan getting into a vehicle. However, Justice Bhatti also raised questions regarding the discrepancy between the clips provided by the District Police Officer (DPO) Sialkot and those presented by the IG Police.

While the IG Police argued that Imran Riaz Khan had hidden himself somewhere, the petitioner's counsels questioned how those individuals, who covered their faces, received information and arrived at the jail to retrieve him. The IGP evaded the question, choosing not to provide a direct response.

The IGP also failed to provide a satisfactory response to the court regarding why officials were not present outside the jail and how the jail authorities could be unaware of the individuals depicted in the video clips, who were seen with covered faces and parked their car outside the jail for an extended period.

However, Chief Justice Bhatti, upon the IGP's request, granted him additional time until May 20 at 10am, based on the IGP's assurance that every possible effort would be made to locate the missing anchorperson.

During previous proceedings, the DPO Sialkot had requested 48 hours, followed by the IGP's request for 24 hours, but both remained clueless. On May 19, the IGP once again sought an additional 24 hours.


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