The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) holding an inquiry into the Model Town incident on Thursday detained nine policemen for their alleged role in the deaths of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) workers on June 17.
A senior police official working in the JIT told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity that around 150 police officials who took part in the clashes with PAT workers had been interviewed by the JIT.
“Eight Elite Force personnel and Sabzazar SHO inspector Sheikh Amir Saleem were not allowed to leave after recording their statements for further interrogation,” the official said.
The detained Elite Force personnel were identified as Sub-Inspector Rauf, Sub-Inspector Athar, Head-Constable Naveed, Constable Javaid, Head-Constable Mohsin, Constable Imran, Head-Constable Khurram and Constable Shujaat.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mushtaq Sukhera told The Express Tribune that the policemen had been detained to investigate their role in firing at the PAT workers during the Model Town incident. However, he said no FIR had been lodged against them.
“The inquiry into the incident will be totally impartial. No pressure from any side hampers the investigation,” Sukhera said.
He said cases would be registered against any police officer found responsible for deaths of the PAT workers.
Sukhera said the arrested policemen would be detained as long as the inquiry team deemed it necessary.
Another senior police official, requesting anonymity, told The Express Tribune that the policemen were being held at the Roberts Police Club due to sensitivity of the inquiry. “Confidentiality of the inquiry report may have been jeopardised if we had kept them at a police station,” he said.
The official said over one hundred of policemen, who took part in the operation, had recorded their statements before the JIT so far.
“Today, we had summoned the policemen who are seen firing shots in the video footage recorded by various TV channels during the Model Town incident. We are holding those who were shooting straight at the PAT workers,” the official said.
When asked about the likelihood of prosecuting the detained policemen, Lahore CCPO Zulfiqar Hameed told The Express Tribune that it was a possibility. “The JIT can lodge FIRs against the detained policemen if they want to,” he said.
Another police official privy to the inquiry told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity that the JIT was not going to arrest any more policemen.
“The arrests followed former Lahore CCPO Chaudhry Shafique Gujjar’s letter to the JIT, stating that the police high command had not ordered shooting at PAT workers. The policemen had taken the decision on their own,” the official said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2014.