Court drama: Gunmen kill four at Rawalpindi district courts

Three handcuffed men and a passerby killed for old rivalry; police catch three of the four assailants.


Mudassir Raja November 13, 2011

RAWALPINDI:


Panic gripped the district courts in Rawalpindi on Saturday after gunmen entered the premises and killed four men.


The assailants, four in all, opened fire at their three rivals in police custody. They also shot dead a passerby after apparently mistaking him as a relative of the arrested trio. The incident, which happened at 10:30am, raised questions over the security arrangements at the courts.

The attack spread fear and panic among people at the district courts and led to a boycott of proceedings by lawyers, who protested along with bar association representatives against the inadequate security measures.

The Civil Lines police arrested three of the assailants, while the fourth suspect managed to get away.

“It was a grim scene. First the attackers shot countless rounds at the three handcuffed men, and then they slashed the neck of one with a dagger and shot another dead man in the eye,” said a lawyer who witnessed the attack.

The lawyer, asking not to be named, said the passerby killed by the gunmen was his client and was leaving after discussing a civil case.

The deceased are Chaudhry Shaukat, 55, Chaudhy Arshad, 50, Chaudhry Ghalib alias Mithu, 32, and the passerby, Muhammad Iqbal, 60, a resident of Rawalpindi.

The lawyer said more than 10 bullets were fired at Iqbal. He believed Iqbal was mistaken as a relative of the arrested trio, who were being brought back to an armoured personnel carrier after they were produced before an additional district and sessions judge.

Another lawyer told The Express Tribune that the policemen guarding the accused ran for safety and that the attackers used different types of pistols in the attack.

A policeman did try to fire at the attackers, but he found his gun was not loaded and could only watch as the attackers escaped from the scene, the lawyer said.

The arrested attackers are Safeer Sadiq, Khizar Sher and Asif Sheikh, all residents of Rawalpindi, who claimed that they were avenging the murder of three of their people.

The Civil Lines police said the deceased were on trial for killing two men around two years ago in Dhoke Ellahi Bukhash.

Lawyers protest

Following the incident, District Bar Association (DBA) President Malik Jawad Khalid called a general body meeting, which blamed the police and district administration for the security lapse.

Khalid told the media after the meeting that he had repeatedly asked the city police officer (CPO) and district coordination officer (DCO) to beef up security at the courts following different firing incidents, but no action was taken.

The DBA president said that they protested outside the offices of the DCO and CPO and urged the government to transfer these officers for their negligence. The lawyers also asked for immediate measures to prevent such incidents in the future.

No criminal case had been registered against the arrested men when this report was filed as the police was waiting for the family of the victims to come from Narowal.

Potohar Town Superintendent of Police Athar Ismail said that they would register a murder case on the complaint of the heirs as soon as they reached the city.

The CPO suspended all police officials at the scene of the crime and issued show-cause notices to them. The suspended officials are Sub Inspector (SI) Shafqat Mahmood, SI Sher Mohammad, SI Jahangir Bhatti, and Inspector Incharge Arif Gondal. The suspended constables are Tahir Mahmood, Waheed Ahmed, Mohammad Nazam, Asad Yar , Mohammad Qayyum, Adil Shehzad and Mohammad Adnan. SSP operations will conduct the inquiry.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 13th, 2011. 

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