The capital police allegedly tried to pin terrorism charges on two innocent motorcycle riders on Sunday to cover up a lapse in adherence to police procedure. They only backed off after locals and political workers intervened.
The incident occurred on IJP Road near Sector I-9/4, when police constables from the Industrial Area Police Station fired at a motorcyclist and a pillion rider after they failed to stop at a police check point.
Though the shots missed the motorcyclists, they chased them and tried to arrest them outside their house in the New Katarian neighbourhood of Rawalpindi along IJP Road.
According to eyewitnesses, the two men claimed they had not heard the police constables ask them to stop and simply went forward to their nearby residence.
Neighbours gathered at the scene when they heard the police accusing the men of being terrorists.
The constables also called for reinforcements from their police station. According to eyewitnesses, Industrial Area Station House Officer (SHO) Qasim Niazi also arrived at the scene in plain clothes.
Locals said that the police were adamant they will arrest the men. But the neighbours accused the police of framing the men and when senior citizen from the area, who also has some political clout, intervened. The policemen then became defensive, according to the locals.
The police then claimed that the issue was insignificant because no one had been hurt by the shots fired, the eyewitnesses claimed.
When The Express Tribune contacted Niazi for comments, he said that he was still getting a briefing on the issue from the constables. But he refused to answer what made the policemen think the two men were terrorists. “I am busy at the moment,” Niazi said, before hanging up the phone.
Policemen posted at pickets in the twin cities are often criticised by the public for their languid and erratic attitude towards checking vehicles.
Police personnel usually stop motorcyclists to check their registration documents, but sometimes they fail to flag down the motorcyclists before they have already passed the check point, as apparently happened on Sunday afternoon.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar and his predecessor Rehman Malik, were known to have suspended police personnel deployed at police pickets in Islamabad on the grounds of laziness.
According to police procedure, when a policeman discharges a duty weapon, the policeman has to submit a report to the police station’s armoury, which issues weapons and ammunition to the cops. The record of the ammunition discharged is maintained, all the way up to the headquarters.
Sources said that in cases such as the one on Sunday, the constables are most likely to submit a report that they tried to stop the motorcyclists at the picket and fired at them on the suspicion that the men were criminals.
Further inquiry into the whole episode depends on senior police officials, police sources said. By the time of filing this report, the Industrial Area police had not registered a case against the motorcyclists.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2014.