Instead of taking responsibility for the tragic incident in Raja Bazaar on Ashura, the former Rawalpindi regional police officer (RPO) on Thursday passed the buck on his subordinates, saying no police officer performed his duty with commitment while he was away from the city.
Appearing before the fact-finding committee (FFC) to record his statement, former RPO Zaheem Iqbal Sheikh claimed that when the incident occurred, he was in Attock to “foil terrorist activity” and his subordinates showed negligence.
The provincial government has suspended five police officials including Sheikh on the recommendation of the FFC to make the inquiry fair and transparent. Others suspended included former city police officer (CPO) Bilal Siddique Kamyana, Security SSP Dar Ali Khattak, Operations SSP Malik Sikandar Hayyat and Rawal Division SP Jamat Ali Bukhari.
“In my absence, the operations SSP and other officers failed to control the situation and this was their failure,’’ he stated before the committee.
Sheikh said that on November 15, he was in Jand, Attock to carry out aerial surveillance of the area after receiving information about the presence of terrorists Jamil alias Jangraiz and his 20 to 25 accomplices.
He stated that he was tipped-off that Jangraiz along with his accomplices was planning to move an ambulance to Rawalpindi on a suicide mission.
“At 3:50pm, when I got information about the incident, I had landed in Pind Dadan Khan and could not fly back immediately because the helicopter’s engine was not working properly,” he claimed.
According to his statement, none of his juniors informed him about the clashes on wireless.
He said that when he reached Rawalpindi at 5:30pm and rushed to the scene, he witnessed intensive aerial firing by miscreants. He said police officers had fled the scene to save themselves instead of controlling the situation.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2013.