ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday extended till September 6th the deadline for the arrest of four absconding policemen said to be involved in the lynching of two brothers in Sialkot last month.
During the hearing of the case, of which the apex court had earlier taken suo motu notice, Advocate General Punjab Khawaja Harris informed a three-member bench, headed by the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday, that the names of police absconders have been put on the Exit Control List (ECL).
However, he said, it appears that some influential high-ups in the police are protecting the absconders. The new District Police Officer (DPO) Sialkot, Bilal Siddique, informed the bench that he is facing difficulty arresting the wanted policemen, adding that some black sheep in the police always tip off the absconders, which include SHO Rana Ilyas. The DPO said, however, that he had requested the RPO for a change of staff at the Saddar police station. The new staff, the DPO told the bench, was requested to consist of policemen that had previously not been posted to the area.
He assured the bench that SHO Rana Ilyas would soon be arrested, just like his predecessor, the previous DPO, was.
The chief justice, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the replies. He noted with displeasure that the incident had occurred on August 15, and the accused had not been arrested despite the passage of close to three weeks. “If the SHO is in Pakistan, why has he not been arrested yet?” questioned the chief justice.
Khawaja Harris, in an attempt to assuage the chief justice’s displeasure, informed the bench that the investigation of the murder case of Bilal, which is linked to the lynching incident, has also been handed over to the Mushtaq Sukhira’s team.
Later, District Police Officer Bilal Siddique requested the bench to give them one week to complete their investigation and to arrest the four absconding policemen. However, the chief justice gave him four days – and asked for them to be produced on the next date of hearing, September 6.
Published in The Express Tribune September 3rd, 2010.