The superintendent police (Security Lahore), Salman Khan, had given the orders to open fire during last month’s melee at the Central Secretariat of Minjahul Quran International in the upscale Model Town neighbourhood of Lahore, according to a police official.
In his statement before the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), Sub-Inspector (SI) Abdul Rauf, however, said that Elite Force personnel were ordered to shoot the protesters in the leg. SI Rauf is in charge of the Elite Force Lahore.
After receiving the orders, Sheikh Amir Saleem, the station house officer (SHO) of Sabzazar police station, and other police personnel fired shots at demonstrators on June 17, which resulted in 14 deaths and injuries to more than 80 people.
Rauf claimed that SP Khan had ordered the police personnel to shoot at the protesters’ legs in order to wound them. He added that security officials had expressed their reservations but the SP remained insistent. He added that SHO Saleem took the lead and other police personnel followed suit, firing around 200 bullets.
In light of Rauf’s statement, further investigation against Saleem and other police personnel is under way. The SHO and other eight police personnel have been in police custody since Wednesday.
These detentions came as AIG Altaf appeared before the judicial tribunal comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najfi on July 9 and submitted that no action has been taken against any police official for firing bullets yet. He added that no police official had been served with a notice either.
The tribunal directed the JIT to submit technical evidence or information such as call data reports and transcripts of phone conversations between the chief minister, former law minister Rana Sanaullah, former principal secretary to CM Dr Tauqeer Shah, Home Secretary Punjab, Commissioner Lahore Division, CCPO Lahore, DCO Lahore, former DIG Operations Lahore Rana Abdul Jabbar, and nine SPs from June 16 to June 17.
The Punjab government has already sacked Rana Sanaullah and Dr Tauqeer Shah. A one-judge judicial tribunal, led by Ali Baqar Najfi of the Lahore High Court, is currently inquiring into the circumstances that resulted in the Model Town tragedy.
However, Dr Tahirul Qadri has expressed dissatisfaction over the steps – and instead called for Shahbaz Sharif to step down.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2014.